Microsoft is slashing the price on its Windows 8-powered Surface RT tablets to slap the unwanted kit into students' palms.
For a limited time, Redmond will knock 60 per cent off the price of a 32GB ARM-driven fondleslab to $199 (£127); a 32GB with Touch Keyboard Cover will be slashed by 58 per cent to $249 (£158); and a 32GB RT with Type Keyboard cover will fall by 54 per cent to $289 (£184; amounts in pound sterling are Reg conversions for guidance rather than Microsoft's official pricing).
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The offer will run until August 31 this year, and is only available to schools and universities, which can presumably purchase the gear for their fresh-faced students and corduroy-wearing academics. The promo covers Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, the UK, the US and others.
Although Microsoft said the offer opened yesterday, according to Microsoft-watcher Mary-Jo Foley, the deal won't go "live" until 24 June. This explains why any Microsoft web pages linking to the promotion aren't working at the moment.
According to a Redmond brochure announcing the sales promo, found here [PDF]:
Surface RT is a terrific tool for teaching and learning and we want students and educators to have the best technology on the market today.
The slabs apparently come with Office Home and Student 2013 RT, a high-definition display for reading digital text books and viewing educational videos, Skype and use Microsoft's Lync for online collaboration. Microsoft also boasts of 20,000 "educationally relevant" third-party apps in the online Windows Store.
The primary target, of course, is the iPad, and Microsoft and Apple have fought long and hard through special-discounting wars to get their hardware and software into the hands of the young on the basis you get a user for life.
The RT, though, has failed to excite the computer-buying public despite a TV ad campaign chasing the Glee demographic.
Microsoft shipped just 900,000 Windows 8 Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets - the latter running Intel chips - according to IDC's figures for the first three months of 2013. Apple let the field, shifting 19.5 million iPads over the same period.
The student offer is the latest from the Steve Ballmer-led business in what's shaping up to be a summer of RT deals. Attendees of next week's BUILD developer conference will get a free 32GB Surface while those at the recent TechEd get-together were offered a 64GB RT with touch cover bundle for $99.99 - the usual price is $699. ®