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Microsoft Surface with Keyboard Cover

Microsoft sold a paltry number of Surface tablets in the last quarter — somewhere between 680,000 and 750,000 units — research firm IHS iSuppli told CNet.

The firm estimates that Microsoft shipped around 1.25 million Surface tablets in the quarter, which makes the low sales figure even more depressing for Microsoft. Additionally, IHS iSupply noted that return rates for the Surface were “very high.” (Those return rates aren’t surprising, given how much the Surface disappointed me in my review.)

“If you put the high return rate together with low sell-through [sales out] rate, that’s indicative of a problem,” iSuppli analyst Rhoda Alexander told CNet. She pointed to the steep learning curve of Windows 8 as one potential issue. I’d wager that many consumers have also been frustrated by the inability to install normal Windows apps, and the small number of Windows 8 apps available.

While the sales estimates aren’t exactly rosy for Microsoft, Alexander also notes that they’re similar to the results from some Android devices. (That’s not exactly a good thing, since most Android devices don’t sell well.) She also points out that the Kindle Fire had similar issues when it launched — but it has since gone on to carve out a decent chunk of the tablet market.

With the Surface Pro tablets on the horizon, which have Intel processors and can run full Windows apps, Microsoft may need to work hard to entice consumers who weren’t interested in the Surface RT.

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