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Microsoft braces for Surface RT feedback storm

Ballmer: 'People get it'... Windows 8. Apparently

Kludgey, dull screen, audio problems, fraying cloth covers – whatever your beef with Microsoft’s Surface, now’s your chance to get if off your chest.

Microsoft has launched a Surface Owner Feedback Program for new owners of the Redmond fondleslab. You’ll be asked to take part in a survey on your experiences with Surface.

Happy/unhappy owners are being offered the incentive of a being entered into a draw for $200 of Surface accessories for entering their details here.

The web page doesn’t say it, but it refers to the ARM-based Surface RT edition of Microsoft’s hardware – Intel Surfaces don’t launch until early next year.

The feedback programme comes as chief executive Steve Ballmer reckoned the vote was already in on Windows 8 as a whole.

Ballmer reportedly told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday: “Based on customer feedback, we know for sure people get it and like it.”

He went on to claim “We really are in a time of unprecedented opportunity.”

Considering the company’s coming late to market on tablets and smartphones, not all shareholders were buying into Ballmer’s legendary enthusiasm. You can read more here.

News of the feedback programme, reported by Mary-Jo Foley, comes a month after Surface RT was released and against the backdrop of a slowly mounting pile of criticisms about the machine and its accessories.

Among those venturing a negative opinion so far have been Hewlett-Packard’s chief of personal systems Todd Bradley, who called Surface RT “slow and kludgey”, expensive and something “the press has made a bigger deal out of... than the world has chosen to believe.” Reg regular Tim Anderson, here, noted Surface RT's "tolerable but rather slow" performance.

Ballmer is reported to have called initial sales of Surface RT “modest”, a report Microsoft felt so strongly about it felt moved to respond by putting out a statement putting its own spin on what it claims was said.

However, an NPD survey of PCs sales over the four-week period covering the Windows 8 release found sales of Windows 8 tablets – potentially meaning Surface and slabs from PC makers - have been “almost non-existent” - less than 1 per cent of all Windows 8 devices sold.

NPD also reported that sales of PCs had fallen in spite of the Windows 8 launch. A survey conducted over the four-week period from 21 October – before Microsoft’s Windows 8 launch event – until 17 November found Windows device sales fell by 21 per cent compared to the same period last year. Windows 8 is selling less than Windows 7, accounting for just 58 per cent of Windows computing device unit sales, versus 83 per cent Windows 7 in the four weeks after that launch.

The chief financial officer of Microsoft’s Windows group, Tami Reller, had earlier claimed that Microsoft had sold 40 million Windows 8 licences since the October launch; she did not clarify the figure, though, and it’s not clear whether this number includes PCs sold to end users or simply licences to OEMs which are making Windows 8 PCs.®

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