Microsoft is cutting the price of its Surface RT tablets by $150. Staples has confirmed the rumor by selling just the 32GB RT model at $350 starting Sunday, July 14, and ending Saturday, July 20. However, it is unclear if the discount also extends to the 64GB version and whether the sale is temporary or permanent.
In the Staples weekly ad, the only model that has the $150 price cut is for the 32GB Surface RT tablet with no mention of a price cut for the 64GB model, even though the retailer sells that version of the Microsoft Windows tablet.
A Touch Cover keyboard will still add an additional $100 to the cost. Preinstalled Microsoft Office software is one of the Surface RT’s chief appeals, so the accessory will be mandatory for many users.
Meanwhile, it is still uncertain if Surface RT’s cheaper pricing is part of a larger, more permanent price cut or just a temporary drop for one model appears to be up for debate.
While Staples price drop appears to confirm an earlier report by The Verge, Microsoft said that it doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation when approached by PCWorld.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said days before the price reduction that in order for the new structure of better collaboration among the company’s many business units and a more cohesive Windows ecosystem to work, the company needs more users to adopt the products at the heart of it all – Windows 8 and Windows RT, according to Information Week.
Surface RT’s access to Office programs, which both iOS and Android tablets lack, appeal to those who would like to work on demand wherever they are. Yet, the only setback is the low number of quality mobile apps, which may change as developers begin to place Windows app as a priority.
Meanwhile, Office software has also received mixed marks, due to the flimsy Touch Cover keyboard, relatively small screen a limited viewing angles.
A $150 price drop might not cause a seismic change to Windows RT adoption. At $349, the Surface RT is more expensive than numerous Android tablets and the iPad Mini. In addition, iPad Mini and Acer Iconia W3 both offer richer software experiences for around the same cost, so Surface RT doesn’t become price-competitive even with the price drop.
Recent rumors of Surface RT suggest the upgraded Windows tablet will include a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip and could go at least 4G for even faster internet connection.
Microsoft’s move to cut prices on Surface RT tablets follows slow sales. According to Bloomberg, out of the 150,000 Surface devices sold in March when the device first came out, roughly 400,000 were Surface Pro units and a little over 1 million were Surface RT devices. Also, the company recently launched an education program to sell the Surface RT to schools at $199, and it has been clearing stock of its devices at its Tech-Ed and Worldwide Partner conferences recently.