Microsoft slashes Surface Pro price by $100

After reporting sinking earnings and disappointing sales of its Surface tablet line, Microsoft announced Monday that it’s cutting the price of its top-of-the-line slate by a cool $100.

The price cut follows a similar move for Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet and brings the Pro down to a $899 price tag for its 128 GB model, though that doesn’t include the tablet’s keyboard cover and bundle that gives users access to Microsoft Office. For that, users will have to pay an additional $309.99, down from a regular price of $478.96.

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Microsoft says that the savings offer is only available for a “limited time,” so anyone interested in shaving a bit off the price should act quickly. But for most people, this price cut — while substantial — is probably not enough.

That’s because the Surface Pro, which ably bridges the divide between a tablet and a laptop, faces two main problems. One is its price, which is still $100 more than the most expensive model of iPad, which also packs 128 GB of memory. The other is the simple fact that not many people are looking for a device like the Surface Pro right now. It’s too betwixt and between, particularly since Microsoft has made a point of setting the product up as a competitor to laptops rather than other tablets.

In that category, it lags behind. Again, the Surface Pro works well to fill basic laptop needs — its proportions make it particularly good for working on a plane — but still falls short of having wide appeal as a long-term laptop replacement. It runs hot. While it can run all Windows 8 programs, they aren’t always optimized for the smaller screen. And the battery life is closer to laptop than tablet, meaning that you have to keep your power levels at the front of your mind.

It’s been about a year since Microsoft shipped its new Windows 8 system to developers, on the hope that a radical redesign that put touchscreens first would help the company play catch-up in the tablet world and slow the losses in the PC industry.

As we all know, things haven’t quite worked out that way. The PC industry is shrinking as users find there’s less a reason to upgrade their hardware and software as often as they do their smartphone. And Windows 8 has had some trouble catching interest with it core users — Microsoft even had to “remix” the system to walk back some of the new designs it put into the original release.

The jury may still be out on whether Microsoft can recover from these setbacks — the company did just announce a major reorganization meant to address some of its problems — but it’s clear that the company is aware that it needs to execute a new strategy, and soon.

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