Microsoft Surface 2 Pre-Order Stock Sold Out

The next-generation of Microsoft Surface tablets and their accessories are nearly sold out, the company says, and the official release date is still three weeks away. Is this a sign Microsoft may finally be turning the corner in the tablet market?

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Surface 2With under three weeks remaining before their official release date, Microsoft Corp.'s Surface 2, Surface Pro 2 and accessories are nearly sold out, the company said in its blog. The strong demand for the Windows-based tablet comes as Microsoft posts impressive enterprise customer wins for the devices.

“You may have heard the pre-order stock of the Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition, Type Cover 2 in Purple and Black, and Touch Cover 2 has sold out at Microsoft Stores in the U.S. It also looks like pre-order stock of the Surface 2 (64GB) and Surface Pro 2 (256 GB and 512GB) are close to selling out -- also at Microsoft Stores. We’re pretty happy about this, of course, given we just unveiled Surface 2, Surface Pro 2 and the new accessories to the world only a week or so ago,” wrote Surface general manager Brian Hall in the Surface blog.

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Before getting too excited about this proclamation, remember this isn’t the first time Microsoft has sold out of a product that ultimately fell into the disappointment bucket. In October 2011, Microsoft announced selling out of the Surface RT tablet just hours after it went on sale.

Officially, Surface Pro 2 running Windows 8.1 and Surface 2 running the RT version of the operating system will go on sale in 22 countries around the world. This next generation has longer battery life and a docking station, making the device more suitable as a notebook PC replacement.

Early reviews of Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 are positive, as testers noted improved speed and performance over the inaugural editions.

Already Microsoft is posting gains in enterprise sales, with Delta Airlines announcing last month it is fielding the Surface tablet to its pilots to replace its bulky flight manual. Microsoft reportedly has similar deals in the works with major universities and financial services firms.

Microsoft is not shy about saying that Surface 2 tablets are ideally set for business use. However, Microsoft isn’t saying when the Surface tablet will be made generally available for channel sales.

In July, Microsoft expanded Surface sales from direct and retail to include select resellers, such as CDW and En Pointe. While now available through partners, Surface sales are limited mostly to direct market resellers that sell products in volume.

The restricted channel strategy hasn’t sat well with solution providers, as many see it as a sign of increased conflict between resellers and Microsoft. While Microsoft hasn’t been forthcoming on when, if at all, it will expand Surface sales to all partners, it is pushing its massive reseller base to OEM partners such as Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. by selling their Windows 8 tablets.

The Surface channel issue remains unresolved, but Microsoft’s intent to compete in the tablet market is not. Microsoft is already planning to release in 2014 new versions of Surface in various sizes and performance ratings. All this comes as Microsoft’s tablet market share remains under 5 percent and it took a $900 million charge in July for unsold Surface RT inventory.

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