Ballmer says Surface RT sales off to 'modest' start (update: Microsoft clarifies)

Microsoft's been holding Surface for Windows RT sales figures close to its chest so far, but CEO Steve Ballmer has allowed in an interview with Le Parisien that the much ballyhooed tablet is off to a "modest" start. The bombastic exec gave that appraisal while touting the imminent arrival of the tab's higher-powered sibling, Surface for Windows 8 Pro, though he didn't elaborate further. After all the cake it's no doubt lavished marketing the slate, we'll have to see if the software giant finds the hardware game tough to swallow.

Update: Microsoft says Le Parisien missed the true emphasis of Ballmer's quote in a summary of its online article (which appeared prior to the full interview), and gave us the following statement:

When asked about Surface, Steve's use of the term "modest" was in relation to the company's approach in ramping up supply and distribution of Surface with Windows RT, which has only been available via our online store and certain Microsoft retail stores in the U.S. While our approach has been modest, Steve notes the reception to the device has been "fantastic" which is why he also stated that "soon, it will be available in more countries and in more stores."

Of course, until we see some hard figures, we'll have to take Redmond's word for that sunny assessment of the Surface RT's fortunes to date. And of course, when we have further details of a more widespread rollout, you'll be the first to know.