Microsoft Hints Distribution Issues Affecting Surface RT Rollout

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By Erik Pineda | November 13, 2012 12:43 PM EST

The Surface tablet has been moving modestly so far, Microsoft said on Monday, hastening to add that the overall push for the Windows RT version of the gadget has encountered minimal glitches.

Save for the limited channels that consumers can access the initial Surface versions, the tech giant has reiterated the earlier declaration of Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer that "the reception to the device has been fantastic."

The company clarified too an earlier interview by Mr Ballmer with French publication Le Parisien, in which the CEO was reported as saying that sales of the new Microsoft hardware "are starting modestly."

"Steve's use of the term modest was in relation to the company's approach in ramping up supply and distribution of Surface with Windows RT," CNET reported Microsoft as saying in a statement.

Apparently, Mr Ballmer's characterisation was in reference to the availability of the Surface RT version, "which has only been available via our online store and Microsoft retail stores in the U.S. and Canada."

At the same time, the tech firm has assured that works are underway to ensure that soon enough, the Surface RT "will be available in more countries and in more stores."

Microsoft's take on the tablet business was initially met with doubts but as the gadget started getting positive feedbacks from early reviewers, analysts predicted of sales pick up to come soon.

The Surface is but part of Microsoft's full-throttle drive to reinvigorate its mobile computing ecosystem via the Windows 8, which the PC industry sees as likely the catalyst it has been waiting for to arrest its declining sales in the past few years.

Following the Windows 8 launch in late October, PC industry players appeared reanimated by the prospects presented by Microsoft's new operating system, which according to analytic firm Gartner has shattered the notion that global consumers would gravitate to single device for their overall computing needs.

It now appears that the 'one device to rule them all' mantra is fading away with the entry of Windows 8, prompting PC vendors to reconfigure their respective product approach, Gartner research analyst Lillian Tay told The Australian Financial Review.

However, the reenergised PC sector needs to realise too that "it is still too early to determine whether Microsoft got it right with Windows 8," this time, IDC's Amy Cheah told The AFR.

"Much work needs to be done to drive awareness and educate consumers on the value proposition of Windows 8," Ms Cheah added.

And judging from the distribution challenges that Microsoft needs to deal with for now, more is may be required for Windows-related products to reach consumers' hands prior to making them realise of the value they'll be getting in trying out the revamped Windows ecosystem, analysts said.

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