Microsoft Offers Surface Buyers $200-Plus for Old iPads

Microsoft is offering people $200 or more to trade in their old iPads for a Surface tablet. The Surface RT now starts at $349.

Microsoft, like HTC, has an anti-Apple deal for you. Bring an old iPad 2, 3 or 4 into a Microsoft Store before Oct. 27 and receive a minimum $200 gift card toward the purchase of a Microsoft Surface RT or Surface Pro.

The Surface Pro starts at $799 and the Surface RT, $349.

Maybe it's a long shot to think people will trade in Apple products for Microsoft products, but for a business user with an old iPad that the kids mostly watched videos on, it could be a good way to get a laptop-like user experience on the cheap.

Microsoft, you may have heard, has more than a few units it needs to move.

Microsoft introduced the Surface, a tablet with a kickstand and an optional cover that clicks into place and behaves like a keyboard, in July 2012. The RT version, with a simplified version of Microsoft's software, went on sale that December, and in February 2013 the Pro version, running Windows 8, arrived.

During the first quarter of 2013, Microsoft shipped 900,000 Surface tablets, IDC reported, to Apple's 19.5 million iPads.

On July 18, Microsoft announced fiscal 2013 fourth-quarter earnings that included a $900 million charge related to Surface RT "inventory adjustments."

Three days earlier it had announced price cuts, lowering the Surface RT, sans cover, from $499 to $349 and the version with a cover from $599 to $449.

"Surface is one part of our journey to bring innovative, compelling Windows devices to market in a modern era of computing," Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said during the earnings call.

The $900 million charge to Microsoft's earnings statement, Hood explained, was a result of the $150 price drop, as well as "inventory adjustments for related parts and accessories."

She added later in the call, "I want to be very clear. We know we have to do better, and that's one reason we made the strategic and organizational changes we made last week. With over 1.5 billion Windows users around the world, a transition of this magnitude takes time. We are confident we are moving in the right direction."

In August, Microsoft announced it was "kicking off the next phase" of a plan to make Surface more widely available and opening up availability of international business channels for the first time to commercial, education and public sector customers in 17 new markets.

Forrester analyst Tirthankar Sen has applauded Microsoft's measured approach, while writing that gradually opening up Surface to new partners is "critical for expanding geographic reach and targeting the enormous base of mid-market and SMBs, while also driving increased value by bundling Surface with business solutions."

During the second quarter of 2013, 1.8 million tablets running Windows 8 shipped worldwide (not all of them the Surface), IDC reported Aug. 5, compared with 14.6 million iOS tablets and 28.2 million running Android.

Given the evolving status of the tablet market, "vendors can rise and fall quickly," Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC's Mobility Tracker program, said in a statement. While Android has been far more successful than Windows 8 to date, he added, "Microsoft-fueled products are starting to make notable progress into the market."

Smartphone maker HTC, on Sept. 12, announced that it will pay $150 or more to consumers who trade in an old iPhone to purchase the HTC One by Sept. 30.