Posted by: Ed Tittel
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Make of it what you will, but prices at the Microsoft store are being slashed. I found the best coverage of this phenomenon at C|NET where Brooke Crothers’ story recites details on discounts for various makes and models from (in alphabetical order, by maker) Acer, Asus, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba. From what I can see, discounts range from $50 to $400, with a median value of about seven percent. The real stand-out is the Toshiba Satellite U925T-S2130 Convertible Ultrabook, whose price has been cut from $1149 to $799 (a whopping 34.8%!). Here’s the Tablets and Convertibles page where you can see all those items in the store, and which ones are being discounted.
Various articles on these discounts speculate that Microsoft seeks to reduce excess inventory, and get these products moving off its store shelves. That doesn’t sound like an unreasonable interpretation to me, and it’s doubly interesting to observe that the specific Toshiba modeled pictured at left in this post is available exclusively at the Microsoft Store — so presumably, it’s also got the biggest margins at which MS can chip away in its efforts to get them into customer’s hands. CNET’s video review of this unit mentions that its list $1,149 price comes at a premium over similarly-equipped non-convertible ultrabooks (i5, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD, 1366×768 touchscreen). Presumably, the fairly serious price cut on this unit puts its prices on par with such ultrabooks and makes it a much better deal to those inclined to accommodate its unusual slide-over design (when used as a tablet, and for transport, the display slides over the keyboard).
Other discounted items of potential interest to buyers might include a couple of Samsung models: the ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T tablet and the ATIV Smart PC 500T Tablet with AT&T 4G LTE (the 700T includes an i5, the 500T an Atom Z2760) have both been reduced by $200 — the 500T from $899 to 699 (about 22.5%), and the 700T from $1199 to $999 (about 16.7%). Alas, both garner lukewarm reviews (of the 700T, C|NET says that it “…walks the line between ultrabook-level laptop and tablet, but doesn’t truly excel at either”).
I’m not ready to interpret these discounts as an overall devaluing of the Windows 8 touch experience, but it does look like not all of the PCs that flock inside the Microsoft Stores are eagles. I perceive that at least some of these are not moving as briskly as Microsoft would like, and that it is taking steps to cull some turkeys from the denizens of this aviary. I’ll be more inclined to take this as a sign of something more significant if MS extends those discounts to more of the models on sale at its stores — especially if any Surface models start attracting knock-offs. As it is, I don’t expect any such discounts to appear until next-generation Surface models make their debut, and MS seeks to flush older units from its inventory.