Microsoft just cut in half its orders to suppliers for the Surface RT tablet

Probably not smiling now.
Probably not smiling now.
Image: AP/Elaine Thompson
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The upstream supply chain for Microsoft’s flagship tablet, the Surface RT, had orders from Microsoft cut by half, reported Taipei Taiwan-based Digitimes. This, in a word, is bad. The company originally hoped to ship four million Surface RT tablets in the fourth quarter of 2012, but now it may ship only two million. We’ve reached out to Microsoft but have yet to receive comment.

Other Windows RT-based tablets from Asustek, Samsung and Dell are also seeing weak performance. It’s worth noting that “RT” is different from conventional Windows, in that it runs on the kind of power-sipping, but generally slower chips usually found in smartphones and tablets (made by ARM) rather than the conventional brains of a PC, which have always been made by Intel and AMD. In December, Microsoft’s “full” version of Windows will come out on a Surface Pro tablet. Microsoft may be forced to move up introduction of the Surface Pro or reduce its price if demand for RT devices stays weak.

This situation was not unanticipated: Reviews of the Surface RT tablet have been middling or worse, and prospects for the company’s new Windows 8 OS are uncertain. As a result, pundits are already declaring this the beginning of (or an important milestone in) Microsoft’s death spiral.