Lost in Translation: Ballmer and the Modesty of Microsoft’s Surface

Somewhat lost in the frenzy surrounding the announcement late yesterday of Windows head Steven Sinofsky’s departure from Microsoft, the company was also dealing with what it described as a widely distributed mistranslation of its chief executive officer’s comments.

According to Microsoft, CEO Steve Ballmer told the French publication Le Parisien that distribution of the company’s Surface tablets was “modest.” But tech blogs had picked up a translation on the newspaper’s website and reported that Ballmer said sales were modest, my colleague Dina Bass reported for Bloomberg News. Le Parisien later removed a reference to modest sales, according to the blog Pocketnow.

The Surface has in fact had relatively modest distribution so far. It’s only available in a few countries, including the U.S., Canada and China. As Microsoft noted in its statement to Bloomberg News, Ballmer added that reception to the device has been “fantastic.”

Not a very modest assessment.


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