Microsoft dangles $200 gift cards to coax iPad owners to swap for a Surface

Watch out Apple: Microsoft's jumping into the gadget trade-in business too and the Windows maker is gunning for the iPad.

Microsoft recently introduced a new trade-in deal, offering a minimum $200 store credit to users surrendering their gently used iPads at U.S. and Canadian Microsoft Store locations. The deal only covers the iPad 2, 3, and 4, and Microsoft requires the iPad power cord and a non-password protected device. Microsoft did not mention the iPad Mini in its trade-in deal.

From the sounds of it, anyone seriously contemplating this deal should restore their iPad to factory conditions before swapping it for Microsoft bucks. The Microsoft Store deal lasts until Sunday, October 27 and is in partnership with gadget trade-in site CExchange.

The best part of the deal, Microsoft says, is that you can use your $200 credit to grab a Surface tablet or other “cool products at the Microsoft Store.” (Microsoft’s iPad swap deal follows a similar deal from Best Buy in July.)

For anyone looking to try out a Surface RT, $200 in Microsoft bucks will get you more than halfway there. Pricing for the Surface RT starts at $350 for a 32GB slate.

Even better: If you decide to snag a Surface RT, we can help you unlock the tablet’s super powers.

Clearing inventory

While you can use your $200 Microsoft Store credit (in the form of a gift card) for anything, Microsoft is clearly hoping you’ll pick-up a new Surface device. The iPad swap program appears to be another attempt to clear Surface inventory ahead of a second-generation Surface announcement on Monday, September 23.

The tepid response to the first-generation devices has left a glut of Microsoft-made tablets on store shelves, and the company has been striving to move Surface slates before Surface 2 arrives.

In late August, Microsoft gave the Surface Pro and Surface RT permanent price drops to stimulate demand—and the ploy worked! Usage for Surface devices—compared to all Windows 8/RT devices—jumped from 6.2 percent in April to 9.5 percent in August, according to AdDuplex.

The advertising firm’s numbers are based on ad impressions from modern style apps in the Windows Store, so there's a natural bias towards RT devices. Nevertheless, it’s clear the Surface has picked up a little steam and all it took was reduced prices.

With customers reluctant to give the company’s new-fangled OS a try, Microsoft in July announced it would take a $900 million down accounting hit to compensate for the steep Surface RT discounts. Microsoft announced initial price cuts to the Surface Pro (loaded with Windows 8 Pro) in August.

The next Surface Pro device is expected to rock a fourth-generation Haswell Intel Core processor and have an option for 8GB of RAM. Meanwhile, the next-gen Surface RT—expected to be called the Surface 2—is rumored to have a 1080p display and a Tegra 4 processor.

Microsoft should announce a street date for both devices on September 23, but with the Microsoft Store’s iPad promo ending October 27 and Windows 8.1 launching October 18, a Surface 2 debut in late October seems likely.

Update: This story was updated at 12:30 PM on Sept. 13.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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