Microsoft upgrades Surface tablets after poor sales

By Dyenamic Solitions - Last updated: Friday, September 20, 2013 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Microsoft is upgrading its range of Surface tablets following weak sales of the original models.
Microsoft upgrades Surface tablets after poor salesThe updates include faster processors and higher resolution screens and cameras.

Both the ARM-based Windows RT version and Intel-powered Windows 8 edition are being upgraded.

The firm previously posted a £560 million writedown after building more of the first-generation RT versions than it could sell.

Analysts said demand for Microsoft’s devices might continue to lag behind rival products.

However, they added that the firm’s support for the product line was part of a long-term strategy that might ultimately pay off.

Windows based tablets accounted for just a 7% share of global shipments in the April-to-June quarter, according to a study by the technology advisory service Gartner.

By contrast, it said, Android-based tablets – including Samsung’s Galaxy series, Android’s Kindle Fires and Google’s Nexus-branded range – had a 48% share, while Apple’s iPads took 45% of the market.

Despite poor sales for its Surface models – and a billion dollar writedown – Microsoft is showing it is still determined to be in the tablet game. It was the Surface RT model which was the real problem, apparently failing to find an audience, while the Surface Pro did relatively well in its high price bracket.

So the big changes this time – a “fundamental revamp ” in the words of Surface general manager Brian Hall – are in the RT, now known as Surface 2. Mr Hall says almost every component has been replaced, resulting in a much faster yet thinner and lighter machine.

The problem is that most Microsoft users seem to have felt that the original Surface was not playful enough, yet too flimsy to be a work machine. In a world of falling PC sales, changing their minds is now the company’s major challenge.

Both of the new tablets now feature displays capable of showing video in full 1080p high-definition resolution – a feature that was previously limited to the “pro” models.

The upgrade also sees the RT version gain a 3.5 megapixel front camera and a 5MP rear one – making them both capable of capturing 1080p video. The pro mode, however, retains the 720p-resolution camera found in its predecessor.

The Intel-based version does get Intel’s fourth-generation Core i5 processor, which Microsoft said should help it attain 60% better battery life than the first model.

Buyers also get the option of more memory than before with up to 512GB of storage and up to 8GB of Ram – allowing them to run more programs at once.

The RT version becomes one of the first devices to be powered by Nvidia’s ARM-based Tegra 4 processor and now features a USB 3 port for faster file transfers. Microsoft said it should attain up to 10 hours of video playback. Using ARM-based chips does reduce costs and offer longer battery life.

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