Attendees of Microsoft TechEd North America 2013 rushed to the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center Monday morning to buy Microsoft's own touch-screen tablets for pennies on the dollar. There was an initial stampede, and long lines are expected to continue until the event ends Thursday night.
Not familiar with Microsoft TechEd? The week-long conference for Microsoft IT pros and developers from all over the world has been held in New Orleans several times, most recently in 2010. A greater concentration of Windows geeks would be hard to find, and so why not build goodwill by selling Microsoft's iPad challenger at a deep discount?
At the event, the Surface Pro is selling at the event for $399! The Surface RT is going for $99! Credentialed conference-goers are allowed to purchase either model or both. A sell-out isn't likely, either. A source told Fox 8 News that the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant brought enough inventory to New Orleans to sell at least one tablet to every TechEd attendee and then some.
Until now, Microsoft's marketing of the Surface tablets for Windows 8 and Windows RT has been less than aggressive, presumably to preserve good relations with big Windows customers, like HP, Dell, Acer, ASUS, Sony, Toshiba, and Lenovo. It looks, however, like this is going to change.
The list price of the Surface RT was recently lowered and a TV campaign comparing it to the iPad launched. The company then announced it would throw-in a free Surface Touch or Type cover (up to a $130 value) with the purchase of a Surface RT between mid-May and the end of June.
The frenzy at TechEd clearly shows that Microsoft's Surface tablets are irresistible at the right price. Several attendees standing in line at the TechEd store said their purchases were completely unplanned and forced them to cut-back on their sight-seeing.
CORRECTION: Wednesday's on-air tech reports contained two inaccuracies:
1.) I said that the Surface RT tablet comes with Microsoft Office Preview Edition that will eventually expire. In fact, the version of Microsoft Office 365 Preview Edition bundled with the Surface RT will not expire.
2.) Because the Surface Pro review unit arrived with both the Surface Touch and Surface Type keyboards, I assumed the retail SKU did as well. Neither keyboard, however, is bundled with the Surface Pro. A Surface Type or Surface Touch must be purchased separately.