SOFTWARE HOUSE Microsoft shipped 900,000 Surface tablets in the first quarter of 2013, according to the latest statistics from IDC.
The research firm revealed on Wednesday that Microsoft shipped just short of a million Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets between January and March this year, figures that see the firm move into the top five tablet vendors for the first time.
According to IDC, a large number of these sales were Surface Pro tablets, suggesting that users favour Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system over its stripped down Windows RT alternative.
Oddly, IDC's figures differ greatly from those published by Strategy Analytics just last week. IDC claimed that the total number of Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets shipped in the first quarter totaled 1.8 million, while Strategy Analytics said that three million were shipped in the three month period.
Either way, these figures show that Microsoft and its Windows 8 operating system are still struggling in the tablet market, as these figures pale in comparison to the number of iPads and Android tablets shipped during the quarter.
This could be due to Microsoft's poor offering, IDC claimed, and it said that the firm's fortunes could turn around if it releases a smaller screen device, creates some consumer buzz and lowers its prices.
Ryan Reith, programme manager for IDC's Mobility Tracker programme said, "Recent rumors have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market.
"However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed. Clearly the market is moving toward smart 7-8 inch devices, but Microsoft's larger challenges center around consumer messaging and lower cost competition. If these challenges are addressed, along with the desired screen size variations, then we could see Microsoft make even further headway in 2013 and beyond."
In comparison to Microsoft's tablet results, IDC's figures reveal that Apple exceeded expectations with 19.5 million tablets shipped in the first quarter, while Samsung took the second spot with 8.8 million Android tablets shifted. Asus took the number three spot for the first time with 2.8 million tablets shipped, likely aided by the affordable Google Nexus 7. µ