Paul Thurrott of Windows IT Pro reports that within days, Microsoft is expected to make its Surface RT tablet available to a broader retail audience. Currently the ARM-based Windows 8 tablet is sold through Microsoft's online store, and through its 32 brick-and-mortar stores scattered throughout the United States and Canada. But soon the tablet will reportedly be offered in traditional retail locations as well.
"This was always going to happen in very early 2013, but the software giant has apparently decided to ramp up the speed and make it happen before the holiday selling season is over," Thurrott stated, adding that his information stems from one of his "most trusted sources".
Microsoft reportedly was going to sell the tablet overseas in retail chains due to the lack of physical Microsoft Store locations. Meanwhile in the States, the Redmond company was rumored to launch Surface RT in Staples and Best Buy come January. But based on the new insider information, Microsoft's plan seems to have changed, moving the date into December instead.
Thurrott goes on to claim that news of Microsoft only selling $500,00 to 600,000 Surface RT tablets is "probably incorrect". Sources close to Microsoft's Surface RT sales numbers claim that the device is actually selling very well given a modest, Microsoft-limited distribution. Even more, Surface RT sales represent "one of the few bright spots in what is becoming an increasingly dire late-2012 launch season."
For now, potential customers can purchase the Surface tablet with Windows RT here (opens in new tab). The 32 GB version without the Touch Cover retails for $499. However customers wanting the 32 GB version with the Touch Cover must shell out $599, and those wanting 64 GB of storage and a Touch Cover will be required to scrape up $699. The Redmond company also sells the Touch Cover separately for $119.99, and the Type Cover for $129.99.
Earlier this week, Forbes reported that "almost no one is buying" Microsoft's Surface RT tablet. Boston-based brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton said that Microsoft will likely sell less than one million units in the December quarter because of a lack of distribution – aka the tablet's unavailability in popular stores like Best Buy, Staples, Walmart and more. Mixed reviews and a $499 starting price isn't helping move units either.
Maybe this is why Surface RT is hitting retail stores early – to bring sales up before the quarter ends? We'll find out soon enough.