Microsoft confirmed on Tuesday that it will make the Surface RT tablets available at additional retailers as soon as mid-December.
The news arrives after unnamed sources claimed the Redmond company would announce a retail expansion of its new Surface RT tablet "within days". Currently the ARM-based Windows RT tablet is sold through Microsoft's online store, and through its 32 brick-and-mortar stores scattered throughout the United States and Canada. But selling the tablet through a more traditional route means more exposure and possibly better 4Q12 numbers for the Redmond company.
“The public reaction to Surface has been exciting to see. We’ve increased production and are expanding the ways in which customers can interact with, experience and purchase Surface,” said Panos Panay, general manager, Microsoft Surface.
Although actual stores weren't named, Panay said customers in North America and Australia will be able to walk right into their favorite retailer and purchase the Surface RT tablet starting at $499 USD. Additional availability will be added in a number of countries in the coming months, he said.
"Our plan has been to expand the retail presence for Surface after the first of the year. Based on interest from retailers, we are giving them the option to carry Surface with Windows RT even earlier," added Steve Schueler, corporate vice president, Microsoft Retail Sales and Marketing, confirming the previous report that Microsoft originally planned to expand sales in January.
Currently 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 together $699. The Redmond company also sells the Touch Cover separately for $119.99, and the Type Cover for $129.99.
Panay said that Surface RT will continue to be sold at all Microsoft retail stores in the United States and Canada and online in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. He also said that the Microsoft holiday stores will remain open into the new year, and transition into either permanent brick-and-mortar retail outlets, or specialty store locations.