Microsoft is in the process of setting up a bunch of retail holiday pop-up shops to kick-start the sales of the Surface RT tablet. Officially, the company has only stated that the Surface tablet would be sold via its own retail outlets (including its online store) but once the pop-up shops go away, how will Microsoft continue with mass distribution?
Of recent, we have begun to see evidence that other retail outlets, outside of the US, will sell the Surface as well. Affirming these reports, Paul Thurrott is stating that Surface will be sold via third part stores starting early next year. It is unclear if this new information is pertaining to stores inside the US or if it will be for international outlets only.
You heard it here first: Major retailers will be selling Surface starting early next year, not just Microsoft.— Paul Thurrott (@thurrott) October 12, 2012
A couple of things to note about the timing of "early next year" is that the pop-up shops will close shortly after the holiday season. If Microsoft does expand to traditional retail channels, it would make sense for it to occur after their holiday stores close down to maintain easy availability of the Surface tablet. Also, the Surface Pro will go on sale around the same time; the Windows 8 tablet will likely need broad distribution that would not be available seeing as the Microsoft stores are currently limited to only a few dozen markets.
While we wait for Microsoft to give us a clear answer on the distribution channels for the Surface, we will likely hear more very soon as Microsoft prepares to launch Windows 8 and the Surface RT later this month.
Update: We've heard from a tipster familiar with Best Buy's retail plans that the Surface will be available in store starting in January, confirming Paul Thurrott's information.
Source: Paul Thurrott