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Microsoft Surface RT Sales Slow, Return Rates High

Microsoft's Surface RT is having a rough go at it in its first few months on the market. According to CNET, which spoke with market research firm iSuppli, sales of the tablet fell well below device orders. Essentially, Microsoft produced far more Surfaces than people actually purchased.

Microsoft produced somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.25 million Surface RT tablets, iSuppli told CNet, but was only able to move between 680,000 and 700,000 units, roughly 55 to 60 percent of Microsoft's total order. While numbers like that aren't unheard of for new tablets not sporting an Apple logo, it certainly isn't a positive indicator of consumer interest in Microsoft's first device.

Compounding the problem for the tech giant are the return rate numbers on the Surface RT, which iSuppli characterized as "very high." Still, the combination of low sales and high returns isn't unique to the Surface, Amazon's Kindle Fire initially suffered from the same issue. Unfortunately, iSuppli analyst Rhoda Alexander said the Windows RT operating system has seen a, "distinct lack of interest," from OEM partners, which could portend a dim future for the tablet-specific OS.

There are some positives, though. Microsoft says that the Surface RT managed to contribute to the company's bottom line last quarter, though it didn't give specific sales data. And although OEMs may not have their sights locked on Windows RT, Alexander said they are showing interest in Microsoft's more powerful Windows 8 Pro operating system.

With Microsoft's Windows 8 Pro-powered Surface Pro expected to hit the market soon, Redmond may soon find out if its tablet experiment is a success or failure.