Home Your IT Mobility Microsoft’s tablets to Surface at retailers?
Microsoft's Surfaces to surface at retail? Microsoft's Surfaces to surface at retail? Image credit - Microsoft Featured

Microsoft has started letting other retailers sell its Surface RT tablet in China and France, with at least wider US retail availability to start “within days”, with “phase two” set to see the same for January 2013’s release of Microsoft’s Surface Pro.

 

 

After reports of around 600,000 sales of the Surface RT tablet, which Windows watcher Paul Thurrott says is “probably incorrect” given that he’s now heard they’re selling “very well”, analyst calls for wider retail distribution are simply common sense.

Microsoft apparently always intended this to happen from “very early 2013”, according to Mr Thurrott, who adds that: “the software giant has apparently decided to ramp up the speed and make it happen before the holiday selling season is over”.

Again, that’s simply common sense if stock is available in large enough quantities to have at as many retail stores as possible, with Best Buy and Staples two of the US tech chains mentioned as retail stores with both Surfaces should be surfacing.

Another famous Microsoft watcher, Mary Jo Foley, points out that a Chinese tech retailer called “Suning” is already taking “pre-orders”, while quoting a Twitter user who informed her that the Surface RT is now available in France, too, at prices slightly cheaper that at Microsoft’s own online store.

There’s also the news that the Surface Pro is expected to have about 4.5 hours of battery life, with a ZDNet article pointing out that it’s simply the “high cost of using Intel”, when compared with the much battery friendlier ARM chips, as seen by the much longer battery life delivered by the iPad – and Microsoft’s own ARM-powered Surface RT.

However, Apple’s MacBook Air is supposed to have 5 hours of battery life, but when I took the power cable out of a 2012 MBA this morning, it said it had four hours of battery life to go.

Obviously, I could boost battery life a little or a lot by dimming the screen just a tad, or taking it right down to a notch or two above blackness, but if this is the kind of battery life you can expect from a MacBook Air, it should come as no surprise that there’s a similar battery life-span for the Surface Pro.

That’s despite other Ultrabooks out there, some of which claim longer battery life, but with Apple’s own MacBook Airs the ultimate “Ultrabooks” to compare against, and the 11.6-inch model the closest in size to Microsoft’s upcoming 10.6-inch Surface Pro, battery life seems, at least on paper, to be very similar.

While there’s a chance you’ll see the Surface RT at some more stores, at least in the US, during the current mega crazy holiday shopping season, 2013’s the year that Surface Pros should be in vastly wider retail distribution, killing for good the notion that the Surface was for Microsoft’s own retail stores only.

That said, just because it’s more widely available doesn’t actually mean consumers will buy them, but at least with all this massive advertising going on, people going to retail stores will actually be able to far more widely see, touch and play with a Surface or Surface Pro for themselves, without going to a Microsoft Store (of which none yet exist in Australia), and without looking for a “pop-up” store in some retail shopping mall when you could see it instead at your local retailer.

So, with Surface set to surface at more retail stores, plenty more Microsoft marketing undoubtedly to come, let alone more Modern UI software for both Windows RT and 8, and more desktop software for Windows 8 computers, Microsoft’s hardware ambitions in 2013 may well see 13 be Microsoft’s other lucky number – along with 8, of course!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.

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