SUM Problems

Microsoft botched the Excel spreadsheet in its Surface tablet ad

November 5, 2013
November 5, 2013

The new Microsoft advertisement touting the new Surface 2 tablet that is plastered on subway stations, bus shelters, and telephone booths across the country has an undeniable error. The ad depicts a spreadsheet of vacation expenses—from airfare to surf rentals—and totals them.

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The pie chart—though unsavory—is rendered correctlyDavid Yanofsky / Quartz

The budget is shown as totaling $9,000, but the true sum of the values—2500+4000+500+1500+500+200+300—is $9,500. Microsoft is off by $500—which happens to be the approximate price of a new Surface 2.

Microsoft declined to comment on this story or give any insight into how the inaccuracy wasn’t caught before the ads went live.

The company can take solace in knowing it’s not alone in crafting sloppy Excel formulas. Renowned economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff failed to sum data correctly in their landmark study Growth in a Time of Debt.

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