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Surface RT and Pro tablets yet to roll out in most countries: Have Microsoft missed a trick again?

Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet

Microsoft made an announcement a fortnight ago in their official Surface blog that they’d be launching their Windows 8 tablets in more countries in the next few weeks.

With reviews for the ambitious new devices being mediocre at best (and occasionally scathing, in the case of the Surface RT), and their sales being less than 5% of the sales of the industry defining iPad over the first quarter of 2013 according to IDC, was it really a good idea to hold back on launching their tablets to as large an audience as possible?

Microsoft has made a big bet on their new Windows 8 tablets letting them get the kind of control (and margins) that Apple gets by bundling their software only on their own hardware. However, the Surface RT proved to have an undercooked OS that had practically no desktop features, while the Surface Pro was prohibitively expensive, had internal storage space that was MUCH lower than they advertised, had a poor battery life, and more.

However, Microsoft went ahead with the strategy employed by Apple with its devices, by adopting a staggered release schedule for its Surface tablets, to the point that by the end of June this year, the Surface RT will still be available in just 29 countries – a full year after it was first announced (and over 8 months since its release)! The Pro was launched much later, in February this year, in fact. But it’s incredible to think that the Pro is only available in the US, Canada and China till at least the end of May.

All this indicates a gross miscalculation on Microsoft’s part, in all honesty. Perhaps they were expecting the Surface tablets to be universally adopted and adored in the North American market, but as time has told, they’ve sold less than a million units of them in the time since their launch.

Samsung’s scorched earth policy with the release cycles of its Galaxy Android tablets (such as the Note 8.0) crucially indicates that its folly to expect to take on the Apple iPad in its home market, considering just how firmly entrenched it is over there. Making the most of the initial buzz is the only way to go for a non-iPad tablet as of now, but Microsoft has simply not done that with its Surface tablets.

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