NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft ( MSFT) isn't collecting old iPads for ecological reasons. There is an ulterior motive involved: the company is offering rebates of $200 or more if you trade-in your used Apple ( AAPL) iPad and buy a new Surface tablet.Microsoft's two-step plan is simple. If you bring in a "gently used" iPad 2, 3 or 4, you can get a minimum of a $200 gift card to the Microsoft store." Consumers can then choose a Surface RT, Surface Pro or any other "cool products" at the Microsoft store. The deceptively simple plan is to rid the world of rival older iPads while clearing warehouse shelves of last year's Surface models. Microsoft needs to make room for the new Surface devices are expected to be announced, here in New York, on September 23rd. Microsoft shares were declining 0.3% to $32.59 in early morning trading. There is a lot of small print lurking at the bottom of Microsoft's offer. It is only good at some Microsoft retail stores (not available online) and a retail associate needs to guide you through the process. You need to have the original power cord and to make sure the iPad is not password protected.
Microsoft warns that because the trade-in programs is being handled by a third-party, CExchange, "other terms and conditions may apply". I'm not sure a $200 bounty is enough to get everyone to trade-in their iPads. Depending on the model and condition, older iPads can fetch higher prices on eBay ( EBAY). Though, there's the process of selling/packing/shipping that has to be factored in.
If you have an older iPad that you're not using and if you're willing to consider buying a Surface tablet this could be a terrific deal if you want a Surface RT, and an okay deal if you want a Surface Pro. Pros run the full Windows 8 OS and start at $799.
But it is a great deal if you'd consider a Surface RT (which runs Windows RT). The original Surface RT was a flop for two big reasons: First, Windows RT doesn't allow you to run third-party apps. Only software approved for downloading from Microsoft's. Users didn't understand why their favorite programs couldn't be used with an operating system named Windows.
Then there was the price. Microsoft asked WAY too much for the Surface RT upon release last year.
But now, Surface RT tablets sell for $349. Add that $200 iPad rebate and that comes to $149 for a very capable device that delivers good performance, very good battery life and a full version of Microsoft Office. We've been beta testing Windows RT 8.1 on an original Surface RT tablet and can report the combination is terrific. Well worth $149.
Microsoft's offer ends October 27, 2013.