UK firms will be able to get their paws on a Surface Pro by the end of next month, Microsoft has announced.
Currently only available in the US, Canada and China, the professional version of Microsoft's tablet will roll out in 19 more countries, including the UK and 15 other European countries, "before the end of May".
In its Official Surface blog, Microsoft Surface general manager Brian Hall admitted "it had got a lot of feedback that people want us to expand availability further and faster". Surface fans who posted comments on the blog berated the vendor's relaxed roll-out timetable for the tablet, particularly those based in India, which was not mentioned anywhere in the blog.
One Australian commentor said that Microsoft may have lost his patronage, pointing out that more advanced slates powered by Intel's shiny new Haswell chip will soon hit the market.
"This is not the console market where each generation lasts years, this is the PC/media device market which evolves yearly," he wrote. "Microsoft: you risk being outdone because of your sluggish approach to product release. As if your lack of communication has not damaged it enough already."
Although sales of Surface Pro and RT have hardly lit up the world, Microsoft's Hall said ensuring it has enough Surface Pro in stock had been one of its biggest challenges.
"To those of you who have pressed for information - please understand that before making these announcements we make sure that we have the volume of devices in place and alignment with our retail partners to do each launch well," Hall pleaded.
Microsoft also announced that the consumer-focused Surface RT - which was launched in the UK in the run up to Christmas - will launch in Malaysia on 25 April, in Mexico by the end of May and in Korea and Thailand in June. The expansion will mean the device is available in 29 markets.
Besides the UK, Surface Pro will launch before the end of May in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Microsoft was silent on local pricing information but in the US, the 64GB and 128GB version of Surface Pro retail at $899 and $999 respectively.
Richard Gibbons, software manager at Microsoft partner Bechtle, branded the lack of official word from Microsoft on whether and when it will make the Surface Pro available to the channel "odd and frustrating".
"One would assume the fact they haven't come out and said "it's not coming to the channel" means there is still a chance it may happen - but you can't be sure," he said.
"As I've said before, we're definitely seeing a drop off in interest in the Surface Pro from customers. Had Microsoft made it available immediately, through the channel, I'm certain it would be the best-selling Windows 8 tablet by far. The HP ElitePad is making good inroads in that space now but, that said, I still think the Surface Pro would sell very well now with those people needing higher specs (Intel vs Atom, 4GB RAM vs 2GB etc.).
"The point about Haswell chips is a good one as they're scheduled to arrive June this year. Perhaps that's why Microsoft is holding off - will there be a Surface Pro with the Haswell chip available to the channel from July 2013 (Microsoft's new FY)? Maybe that's why they didn't make a huge amount of stock...so they don't get stuck with them when the Haswell variants arrive?"
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