Microsoft turns to channel in Surface catastrophe

redmondMicrosoft will be reeling after top manufacturers dropped Windows RT as a platform one after the other with more rumoured production stoppages on the way.

Asus, Lenovo, and HTC have all ditched RT while Samsung is rumoured to quit production soon, and Toshiba and HP have not made clear any plans to push the operating system, as PC Advisor reports.

In the oversaturated tablet market where Android and the iPad are king, it is not particularly surprising RT failed to woo customers as a ‘cheap’ watered down alternative to Windows 8, that was actually anything but affordable. Microsoft’s none-message advertising campaign spectacularly flopped and while reviews were OK, the tech press was baffled by Ballmer’s insistence to keep the price tag high.

Even with a more recent price cut, the Surface RT is not particularly alluring.

The numbers in Microsoft’s inventory were staggeringly poor, with the company losing $900 million to its bet on the Surface RT sitting shipped but unsold in warehouses everywhere.

When even Windows 8 was not persuading potential customers to jump ship from Android or iOS with their smart devices, it was an expensive experiment for Redmond to insist on the viability of RT, and considering the company’s track record in hardware, even crazier to build and brand the Surface RT itself.

Now Microsoft hopes the channel will be able to convince business owners to cover its bad bet.

Today the Surface team announced the channel availability of both the Surface RT and Surface Pro in 17 new markets – including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. Resellers will be able to offer device recycling, data protection, custom imaging, onsite service, and more.

But these resellers will have to persuade businesses that the Surface or Surface RT are actually useful devices. There may be a few bloated budgets channel players will be able to extract some cash from, but overall, the move stinks of Microsoft trying to dump as many of the tablets as far away as possible.

Here is the official line: “We continue to be committed to bringing business channel availability to all markets where Surface is currently sold. As Forrester analyst Tirthankar Sen noted in his blog commentary, extending from our initial U.S. commercial channel roll-out on July 1, this measured approach helps us to quickly gather feedback and improve while we grow our geographical reach in the business channel.

“This availability in international markets, along with the updates coming to Surface RT with Windows 8.1 are all important milestones for our customers”.

The blog post concludes: “We know that people who use Surface love it!”