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Surface RT to reach third-party retailers as Microsoft ramps up tablet production

by Doug Drinkwater

December 12 2012

Microsoft has confirmed earlier speculation that the Surface RT tablet is to come to third-party retail stores, and also suggests that it is ramping up production of the Windows RT tablet.

"Our plan has been to expand the retail presence for Surface after the first of the year,” said Steve Schueler, corporate VP of Microsoft Retail Sales, in a statement.

“Based on interest from retailers, we are giving them the option to carry Surface with Windows RT even earlier.”

This date appears to be “mid-December” for retailers in the United States and Australia, with worldwide availability to be announced in the “coming months”.

In a further bid to drive up flagging Surface sales, Microsoft’s statement also suggested that the firm’s pop-up retail stores could become permanent fixtures across the U.S. and Canada if holiday season sales live up to expectations.

“Based on the success of the Microsoft holiday stores, the company will extend all of these locations into the new year," read the statement. "These stores will transition into either permanent brick-and-mortar retail outlets or specialty store locations.”

Since the news broke, Business Insider has claimed that Staples will today (December 12) become the first third-party retailer to stock Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablet, with Best Buy and Wal-Mart expected to follow suit in a few days.

All retailers are expected to adhere to Microsoft’s existing pricing set-up for the Surface RT, which starts from $499.

The Surface RT tablet has only been available via Microsoft’s online website and the firm’s handful of holiday retail stores, resulting in some analysts pegging Surface tablet sales to be under a million units in Q4.

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