Microsoft has lost its corporate marbles with an offer of about $1,100 off a bundle of its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablet/laptops at its TehEd North America 2013 user conference. At least that's what some of those taking advantage of the deal say.
"They're crazy," says Rosan Dsouza, a software developer at the University of Maryland who stood in line for an hour and 45 minutes during the conference to buy both devices for $500.
The normal Microsoft Store price for the bundle is $1,600.
Attendees can buy either of the devices outside the bundle at a discount as well. The 128GB Surface Pro costs $400 (no keyboard); the 64GB Surface RT with a keyboard costs $100. At normal price the keyboard alone costs $119.
"You can't beat this," Dsouza says. He thinks Microsoft is trying to reward loyalty by offering the deal to people with a proven affinity for Microsoft. In return, he thinks Microsoft expects them to create more Windows Phone and Windows 8 applications that can help boost business in those two areas.
Doug Reuter, a software developer from Wisconsin, says the deal is a marketing scheme. "The best way to get people to adapt to a technology is to make it very easily available to people from all over the country," he says. "You want people to take it home, fall in love and spread the gospel."
Still, the deal, which he heard about through an email, sounded too good to be true. "I saw the price, and I thought it was spam," he says.
Attendees spent more than three hours queued up to buy the devices, forgoing some of the TechEd learning sessions to do so. One woman says she lined up three and a half hours before the sales booth even opened Sunday and wound up number seven in line.
Jose-Miguel Colon, the IT director for the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau says he already has a Surface Pro the bureau bought for him but wanted another for home use.
He can't put, for example, the Xbox SmartGlass companion app on it because that would violate his own rule against installing non-work apps on convention bureau equipment. He bought an RT along with a Pro because the deal was so good, and plans to give it to his 10-year-old daughter who already has an iPad.
Colon thinks Microsoft has two reasons for the sale. First, a larger 256KB Surface Pro is already available in Japan and will be here soon so the current Pro prices will drop anyway. And getting them into the hands of people who are dedicated enough to Microsoft to attend TechEd will attract more interest.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.