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Microsoft Surface RT sales far slower than expected

Sales of the Microsoft Surface RT tablet appear to be weaker than expected, with sources in the component supply chain claiming that their orders have been cut in half from original requirements.

Designed around ARM-based processors, the Micrsoft Surface RT is the company's first attempt at producing a device to compete with the success of the iPad - such as the recent Apple iPad 4, and the Google Nexus 10.

Micorosft Surface uses a 10.6in display, an Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset and 2GB of memory. It runs a specially modified version of Windows 8 designed specifically for mobile processors. We were quite taken with it in our Micrsoft Surface RT review.

A major selling point is the Touch Cover keyboard, an optional extra on the entry-level 32GB model but included with the 64GB keyboard. Designed to protect the screen, the Touch Cover features a membrane-style keyboard on its inner surface which transforms the tablet into a netbook-style device when coupled with a kick-stand built into the case.

The device is, however, priced towards the upper end of the market, competing directly with Apple's higher-resolution retina-display iPad models. Issues with the Touch Cover splitting during normal may have also hurt consumer confidence in the tablets, despite Microsoft swapping the faulty units out without question.A harder to quantify problem is persuading consumers to think of Windows as a mobile operating system.

Whatever the reasons, it looks as though sales aren't great. According to DigiTimes, an industry rumour site, component sellers have seen orders for Surface RT parts cut in half - suggesting Microsoft severely overestimated how popular the device would be. The site further claims that rival Windows RT-based devices from Asus, Samsung and Dell are also selling poorly.

With Apple still holding a majority position in the tablet market, and Google working to mop up those on a tighter budget, Microsoft appears to be struggling to make an impact in a market it could be entering too late.

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