Microsoft embraces Surface RT price cut -- and $900M write-down -- by poking fun at Apple's iPad

New ad touts the discounted $349 price of the slow-selling tablet

The day after Microsoft took a $900 million charge against its Surface RT tablet -- sparking rumors that it would dump the poor-selling device -- the company unveiled a new ad that again took on Apple's iPad, this time by touting the Surface RT's lower price of $349.

The 30-second ad relied on the same Siri-like narrator used in an earlier Windows 8-versus-iPad campaign, this time to contrast Microsoft's tablet against Apple's full-sized iPad.

"Oh, no, here we go again," said the Siri mimic at the beginning of the ad. "Oh, snap. You have a real keyboard, too?" the iPad's virtual spokeswoman continued as the Surface RT's built-in kickstand and USB port were shown. The iPad lacks those features.

"Less Talking. More Doing," the ad concluded.

A week ago, Microsoft chopped the price of the 32GB Surface RT by $150, or 30%, to $349 -- the number the Redmond, Wash. "devices and services" firm used in the comparison with the 32GB iPad, which retails for $599. Microsoft also lowered the price of the 64GB Surface RT by $150, a 25% cut, and is now selling both models with the Touch Cover for $100 more.

But the Surface RT discounts didn't come free.

Yesterday, Microsoft wrote off $900 million from its earnings for the second calendar quarter to account for Surface RT "inventory adjustments." CFO Amy Hood later defined those adjustments as losses due to the discounts, and for an unspecified quantity of components -- likely parts purchased but not yet used to assemble more tablets -- and accessories.

Some who commented on the YouTube version of the ad objected to the price comparison, arguing that the Surface RT's $349 was deceptive, at least during the portion where the Touch Cover was shown, as that was not included at the price.

Fine print shown in the ad, however, acknowledged that the Touch Cover was sold separately.

But it was the kicker at the end of the ad that garnered the most raves in comments. "Do you still think I'm pretty?" asked the iPad.

A day after writing off $900 million in Surface RT assets, Microsoft takes on the iPad in a price-comparison advertisement.

This article, Microsoft embraces Surface RT price cut -- and $900M write-down -- by poking fun at Apple's iPad, was originally published at

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is

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