back to article Microsoft sold out of Surface tablets in the UK... YEP, all 2,000 units

Microsoft may have sold out of Surface devices, but if the experiences of the UK channel are a measure for the rest of Europe, that's not saying a lot. Sources tell us that fewer than 2,000 units landed at the shores of Blighty since Redmond cleared the way for a select band of nine resellers to start peddling its wares from …


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  1. Bill the Sys Admin

    "all Aussie dealers would be able to sell Surfce."

    Little typo

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical PR shite

    Have a channel size of one. Sell one. Stuff the press with "X has sold out! We are so popular!!!!"

    It's the same as "X is the fastest growing whatever!!!". Yes, well if you go from no sales to some sales, that it a pretty big increase. Very easy to do and utterly meaningless.

    And the fawning press fall for it, rather than rip the company to shreds for trying it on.

    The title of this should be "MS doesn't believe in own product - restricts channel" or "MS attempts PR spin after keeping channel artificially low".

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Typical PR shite

      Is it just me that's never even TRIED to get any product that claims it has "sold out" until the supply line is back in order?

      First, your supply channel worries me if you can't keep up with, or even predict, demand. How long until you stop supplying them entirely?

      Second, if I can't see the actual, real, physical product available for sale anywhere, how the hell do I know what I'm actually buying?

      Third, it's grossly immoral (if not actually illegal) to misrepresent the extent of such a "sale", so if you don't state sales figures (i.e. "we sold out of X because 10 million people tried to buy one", which is fair enough), then I ignore it as nothing but empty (or misleading) words anyway.

      Fourth, though you might be "sold out" of pre-orders, I'll wait until those people have tried the product out and know what it does and then I know I'm not going to be left with an junk and/or unsupported (because of the small customer base) product. If it's REALLY that good, I'll know and put my order in once I'm happy, and you'll keep making them enough that I'll always get one.

      Why would anyone actually want to BUY something that the company can't even sell properly?

      I know the answer, of course, but I still don't get the logic that such people go through in their heads: "Wow, I must have this product that nobody else has tried, nobody can get hold of, nobody wants to take my money and give me the product, the company are misrepresenting the extent of their sales figures for it, and which every reviewer is in the same position and/or has been sworn to silence - it can only be a GREAT product...."

      1. Ian 7

        Re: Typical PR shite

        Surface is definitely becoming a bit of an embarrassment and a fair chunk of Microsoft's strategy is a bit suspect and certainly unproven right now, so by all means bash them for that. But don't embarrass yourself by displaying your lack of understanding of supply chain management. Here's a great comment from someone (not me) on a different thread a few weeks back on the same subject which is a great beginner's introduction to the subject...

    2. Charles Manning

      Sound bites for Wall St

      "Hey MS, how them Surface sales going". "We're sold out. They're buying them as fast as we make them."

      Ballmer surely wants to make anything look positive so he can kick the can far enough down the road that he retires before he has to fix it.

      Apart from the cost of device development, all the advertising as well as opportunity costs must make the Surface on of Microsoft's worse mistakes. Even worse than Zune.

      Most of these Surface devices will be bought by corporates who just buy one of every new gizzmo that comes along for evaluation. That's a rational thing to do even if you are highly skeptical.

      But the challenge for MS is convincing enough of these corporates that the Surface is the "killer IT appliance" that will radically change their business for the better. That will be far harder to do.

  3. TheOtherHobbes

    Somewhere in Redmond:

    "How can we improve our Surface Sales Strategy[tm]?"

    "How about adding a laugh track?"

  4. DragonLord

    So basically, last time Microsoft went the traditional buy massive amounts of stock as we'll sell it all eventually (which works for their mice and keyboards) and ended up with useless product. This time they've been more careful and only bought as much as they thought they could sell to start with.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      But 2000 is still completely embarrassing.

      I mean, I know people who have sold 2000 things they've made on eBay/etsy in less time than the Surface has been out. And I can find any number of companies that have pushed out that number of large IT products as nothing more than prototypes / review copies.

      It really needs at least another digit to be taken anywhere near seriously. Fact is, less than 0.003% of the UK population have one of these products, and probably a LOT less (I imagine selling 100 Surfaces to a large company is much easier than selling one to a home user). Coincidentally, that's about the same as being in the Sunday Times Rich List for the UK. So, statistically speaking, you stand the same chance of knowing someone on that list personally as you do someone who owns a Surface.

      Which kind of tells you who their audience is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Amusingly, Tesco appear to have sold 35,000 of their Hudl tablet in the first few days of its sale.

        Though admittedly, it is much cheaper.


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guess that's one way to 'sell out' - make sure there are very few and get all your staff / friends etc. to buy one.

    2000 is a joke - bet some corporates are buying that many iPads in one drop and Apple sold 9m iPhones in a weekend.

  6. Captain Scarlet
    IT Angle

    Typical PR

    I don't feel this even deserves a news post!

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Typical PR

      El Reg should have saved it Friday, and savaged it in Bootnotes.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks Microsoft

    Best comedy since Father Ted.

  8. Annihilator Silver badge

    And yet again

    The usual complaints of supply chain management from various bods that don't understand supply chain management, or the adage of not carrying large quantities of stock at once.

    For ease of maths, let's say MS can make 20 per day and they have a value of £500. To make the 2000 ready for launch date, they'd have to start building them 100 days ago. They'd also have a gradually growing value of stock sitting in a warehouse over 3 months, waiting for launch day, with the value gradually adding up to £1,000,000. Inflate the volumes and this becomes lunacy. Same goes with Apple launches.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: And yet again

      Whilst you are right with Apple (and any mass produced product for that matter) product laaunch, Apple would have at least TEN times that number of iPads or whatever available on the release day.

      Put the 20K for the UK alongside the multiple million of iPhones that were sold worldwide in the first weekend and you can clearly see that MS have a huge uphill struggle ahead of them.

      However, I am just amazed that MS has the gall to Launch such a flagship product with only 2000 units. It is almost as if they are already accepting that it is going to fail.

      Paris who just loves repeat failures.

    2. Tyrion

      Re: And yet again

      Apple has no problem selling 10 million devices in a weekend, so why is it impracticable for M$ to make more than 2k devices for launch?

      20 per day you say? Haha. You really have no clue do you. All of it's produced in China, and they have the capability to put out 100 times that.

      The reason M$ produced so little is because - 1. No one's going to buy them, and 2. M$ love having their products in the news saying they sold out. They do it every time, and every time M$ fanboy / shill sites like WMPoweruser and Neowin eat it up.

      1. Annihilator Silver badge

        Re: And yet again @Tyrion

        "Apple has no problem selling 10 million devices in a weekend, so why is it impracticable for M$ to make more than 2k devices for launch?"

        Well, it was 9 million. It was also globally. We've no idea how many were sold in the UK. The number also included the 5C.

        "20 per day you say? Haha. You really have no clue do you. All of it's produced in China, and they have the capability to put out 100 times that."

        You'll note I said "for ease of maths", not "these are real numbers". Tried to make it simple for you and ignore the global figures. Clearly I didn't try hard enough.

  9. paulc

    The real WTF here is that

    2,000 people actually wanted one...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The real WTF here is that

      Several well off IT Pros I know including me have one already or have one on order.

      It's by some distance the best tablet on the market - at least for now. Unfortunately it has a matching price tag, so you need to be well funded to get one...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The real WTF here is that

        "Best tablet" if your criteria is the one that can run PC software. Most don't have the same criteria, and would still choose the iPad or an Android tablet even if the Surface sold for the same price.

      2. Tyrion

        Re: The real WTF here is that

        >> IT Pros

        Pros at wasting money on a paperweight maybe, but not an IT Pro. An IT Pro wouldn't waste his time on a 10 inch screen and integrated graphics. For the same price you could get an ultrabook with a real keyboard, and non of that metro-sexual nonsense. Or better yet, a custom built PC with Arch Linux.

  10. Dazed and Confused

    They 'sold" how many?

    And now, next question please, could you please tell me how many MS employees there are in the UK?


    So now, please tell me how many you sold to people who's job wasn't dependent on buying one?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sell or given away?

    We got given two by Microsoft last week. Were these from the count of 2000? Did they actually sell ANY AT ALL?

    1. Tyrion

      Re: sell or given away?

      I hear Dell and Delta Airlines like to foist M$ device inventory onto their employees.

  12. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Black Knight selling tactic.

    "Come back! I have sold out!! You yellow bastard!!!"

  13. Tyrion

    Another Paperweight from M$

    These M$ tablets are paper weights anyway. The RT version can't run the legacy x86 desktop apps so the only advantage it had for people invested in the ecosystem is gone. What's left is a barren wasteland with tumbleweeds rolling around M$' App Store. And if that wasn't bad enough, users have to deal with that Metro-Sexual blatent rip off of the Wii's Home screen.

    Even the pro version is pointless as well. Who the hell wants to use touch on the Windows desktop? Because that's the only place the real apps will run. It's like trying to hit a needle with a hammer, it's horrid.

    Microsoft should go back to patent trolling and antitrust abuse because that's the only thing they're good at.

  14. Deadly Chicken

    Whatever the sales or spin, the surface RT is a great tablet. The ipad looked nice, android was cheap (and it turns out, nasty) but the surface is actually useful rather than superfluous.

    To be fair I found browsing on the android tablets or ipad unappealing and I would rather get up, walk to my desk from the couch and turn on my PC than browse from either device. But the surface actually got used in this manner, its also been used for work editing office documents and connecting to remote desktop session with full mouse support.

    If I needed a new laptop then maybe I would consider the pro, its not like you HAVE to use touch for those desktop applications, the fact that when you are not using those applications you CAN use touch to browse for example, is a plus not a negative.

    But for me the RT version holds so much more value, secure, simple, functional, versatile, lightweight and long lasting. Seriously sales and spin aside its a great product, I don't get why people cant seem to see that ?

    1. Jay 2

      I suspect the lack of RT love is somewhat due to MS being rather late to the party and thier app store is (obviously) rather bare compared to the equiv iOS and 'droid. Plus calling it Windows, when it can't run existing (x86) Windows software also probably doesn't help.

      Ironically it's for those reasons that I think the Pro could be moderately successful.

      In both cases sales could be hampered by the general negative portrayal of Windows 8 (on the PC) due to TIFKAM. More irony in that TIFKAM is probably OK on touch devices. I was right when I said calling three different OS Windows 8 and foisting the same (mainly touch-based) interface on them all would not be a good idea.

    2. roselan

      You know MS stopped paying money for nice posts about RT, right?

    3. paulc

      hello Steve Ballmer, is that you???

  15. Firvulag

    Dragons Dens

    Hi Dragons I've made this expesive new gizmo and with a massive marketing push I've sold out

    Duncan : How many have you sold

    A: around 2000

    Duncan: Its ridicullusss I'm out.

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