Microsoft has found a face-saving way to put a dent in its stacks of unshipped Surface RTs: The company has confirmed it will sell the ARM-based tablet to students at a steep discount starting later this month, according to Microsoft maven Mary Jo Foley.
Pricing will start at $199 for a vanilla 32GB tablet, which has a sticker price of $499. Microsoft will also sell the Surface with Touch Keyboard Cover for $249 (its retail price is $599), or with the Type Keyboard Cover for $289 (down from $629). The machines will come loaded with Office Home and Student 2013 RT, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote -- along with the RT version of Outlook down the road. The offer will be available to students around the world in grades K through 12, as well as higher-education institutions.
Microsoft is naturally putting a positive spin on its decision to bestow highly discounted tablet computers on eager young learners: "It's important Microsoft does its part to help get devices into the hands of educators that help prepare today's students with skills modern businesses demand," read a statement Microsoft sent to Foley.
Helping to deliver modern technologies into schools is certainly commendable. However, it's not as though Microsoft is suffering any shortage of Surfaces. Of late, we've seen:
- Microsoft Stores offering a free Type Cover or Touch Cover with every Surface RT
- Microsoft announcing it will hand out 10,000 Surface RTs to educators at the upcoming International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2013 conference in San Antonio
- Staples discounting 32GB Surface RT machines from $499 to $399
- Microsoft sold Surface machines to TechEd attendees at markedly low prices. The 64GB Surface RT tablet with a Touch Cover goes for $100 (regularly $699); and the 128GB Surface Pro machine without a cover runs $400 (regularly $999).
InfoWorld's Woody Leonard reckons that Microsoft is rushing to unload its stock of ARM-based tablets with versions running "Haswell" chips. Those chips, which are rumored to offer 50 percent boost in battery life, will make today's Surfaces "look like plodding profligates in a month or two." Apple is using the "Haswell" chips in its new MacBook Air models, doubling their battery life to 12 hours.
More details will emerge on June 24, when the sale begins.
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