Microsoft’s Surface Found A Lifeline

Panos Panay, the boss of Microsoft’s Surface business, introducing the Surface Pro 3. Lisa Eadicicco

Microsoft’s Surface tablet business got a nice boost last quarter, thanks mostly to the Surface Pro 3 launch.

The company doesn’t break out unit sales in its earnings reports, but it does give revenue for its Surface business, which includes the tablets and accessories like the optional (but essential!) keyboard cover.

On Thursday, Microsoft said the Surface division brought in $US908 million in revenue last quarter. That’s up from $US400 million a year ago. We’ll never have an exact number, but since we know Surface tablets start at $US300 and go all the way up to $US2,000 or more fully loaded, we can guess that Microsoft likely didn’t even sell 1 million units.

That’s nothing compared to the 12.3 million iPads Apple sold last quarter, but it is still very significant growth. That at the very least gives Microsoft reason enough to keep chugging along with tablets, despite mediocre reviews and puny market share.

The Surface will be especially important when Windows 10 launches next year. It has always served as a reference design for other PC makers to get the most out of Windows. And Windows 10, which fixes the many of the problems people had with Windows 8, will be right at home on a device like the Surface.

It may not be a blockbuster device, but for now the Surface’s growth in the last year has given it the lifeline it needs to stick around for a bit longer, at least until Windows 10 makes up for the disaster that is Windows 8.