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Microsoft plans tablet computer event

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The Surface RT price dropped from $499 to $399.

A technology representative demonstrates the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet computer in Washington, DC, on April 16, 2013 (AFP/File, Saul Loeb)

A technology representative demonstrates the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet computer in Washington, DC, on April 16, 2013 (AFP/File, Saul Loeb)

AFP – Microsoft sent out invitations to a 23 September event at which it is expected to unveil new Surface tablets to challenge the iPads and Android devices dominating the market.

The event, which is to be held in New York, occurs as the US technology giant struggles to remain relevant given the rising shift from traditional computers to smart phones and tablets.

Email invitations to the “Surface NYC event” revealed little more than time and place details displayed over a graphic image of a Surface tablet and matching keyboard.

Last month, Microsoft knocked $100 off the price of high-end versions of its Surface tablet, which is competing against Apple’s iPad and other devices that use Google’s Android system.

The software giant’s online store is now offering US consumers the Surface Pro for $799 or $899, depending on memory capacity, down from the previous prices, $899 and $999, respectively.

The Surface RT is a basic version of the tablet, which received  a 30 percent price cut earlier  this year after failing to gain traction in the market.

The Surface RT price dropped from $499 to $399.

The promotion arrived at the heels of the sale of shabby tablets, which  resulted in Microsoft paying a $900 million provisions charge against fourth quarter earnings; sales ceased at the end of June.

The charge exceeds the sales revenue of the tablet, since it was launched at the end of October 2012, estimated by the company to be around $853 million.

Surface was introduced to showcase Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system, which was launched at the same time in an effort to make up for ground lost to Apple and Google in the mobile domain.

Pressure on Microsoft to avoid becoming obsolete in the rapidly evolving technology world has triggered an overhaul of Windows; early retirement plans for chief executive Steve Ballmer, and the multibillion-dollar purchase  of Nokia’s handset business.

The deal worth $7.2 billion (5.44 billion euros) gives Microsoft Nokia’s mobile phone operations along with an array of patents and licenses to help compete with rival platforms.

The deal also moves Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop, who was hired from Microsoft in 2010 to turn the company around, back to his former firm, and makes him a likely candidate to succeed Ballmer when he retires.

Microsoft’s chief executive, Steve Ballmer, announced has announced he will retire by August of next year.

Ballmer took over as CEO in 2000 from co-founder Bill Gates, a classmate and friend from their days at Harvard University in the 1970s.

When Ballmer took over, Microsoft was the undisputed tech sector leader, and the world’s largest company in market value. But in recent years, it has struggled, as consumers move from desktop and laptop PCs to mobile devices.


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