Microsoft will now pay you $200 to trade in your iPad for a Surface tablet

First, Microsoft badmouthed the iPad. Now it wants to pay you to get rid of yours.

In a new promotional stunt aimed to sell more of its own tablets, Microsoft announced that it will pay up to $200 for shoppers who trade in their iPads at Microsoft stores. Microsoft says that customers can now forfeit their “lightly used” iPads at select Microsoft store locations in order to receive “a minimum of a $200 gift card,” which the company hopes they’ll then apply towards a new, shiny Surface tablet.

The offer is extended to the iPad 2 and the 3rd and 4th generation iPads.

Couple this with the price drop that Microsoft recently announced for its different Surface models, and some customers could be looking at something close to a free Surface RT, which now starts at $349 after a price drop.

Of course, Microsoft first needs to convince users that its tablet is worth getting rid of an iPad for. Microsoft has run several feisty iPad vs. Windows 8 tablet commercials (see below), but given the paltry sales numbers — and a recent $900 million write-down on unsold Surface tablet inventory — it's not clear Microsoft has yet succeeded.

Indeed, the latest market share data for tablets shows that the Windows 8 category has seen its piece of the pie grow slightly (up to 4.5 percent in Q2 of this year from 1 percent a year earlier), but the company’s own Surface RT tablet accounted for only 0.5 percent of all tablets sold in Q2 of 2013. Apple’s combined iPad models accounted for 32.5 percent of the tablet market, while Android tablets led the way at 62.6 percent.

But Microsoft is hanging in there. The company just announced a Sept. 23 event, presumably to unveil its Surface 2 tablet. There are no details as to when or if a Surface 2 will be soon be available, but we do know that the Windows store iPad trade-in offer is running until Oct. 27. So who knows: Maybe Microsoft is preparing to introduce a tablet that will convince iPad owners to trade in their current tablets after all.

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