Microsoft CEO Admits Surface Sales Only 'Modest'

Everywhere you look these days you find ads for the Microsoft Surface, the company's ambitious tablet-laptop combo. But perhaps it's not clicking as much with consumers as the company hoped. In an interview with French newspaper LeParisien, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said sales thus far have been "modest."

Despite the fact that Microsoft has blanketed the airwaves, magazines and more with Microsoft Surface ads--and the fact that the company has opened many pop-up stores to help push this device--shoppers now seem to be lukewarm on it after some early buzz and brief inventory shortages.

In our Surface review, we liked the industrial design of the slate, as well as the innovative Touch Cover keyboard. However, we also expressed concerns about the lackluster app selection in the Windows Store, as well as the confusion that comes with dealing with two different interfaces in the Modern UI and traditional desktop.

In the same interview Ballmer touted the impending arrival of the Windows Surface with Windows 8 Pro. That version of the device will offer a more powerful Core i5 processor and full HD screen, but it will also weigh a heftier 2 pounds, compared with 1.4 pounds for the fourth-generation iPad and 1.5 pounds for the Surface with Windows RT.

Ultimately, limited distribution could be hurting Microsoft the most. Yes, you can buy the Surface online, but the only place you can try one out in person is at one of Microsoft's own stores. To really move the needle, Microsoft would likely need to go back on its promise not to compete head to head with its own partners in Best Buy and other retailers. And that would not sit well with companies like Acer, which already told Microsoft to "think twice" about bringing out the Surface.

Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.