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Microsoft Surface Pro will land in UK in WEEKS*

That pricing with those channels? Good luck, Redmond

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Updated Microsoft struggled to fill retailers' shelves with the 128GB Surface Pro in North America but is rolling out both this and the little-loved 64GB version in Blighty later this month.

In a statement last night, Redmond confirmed the Pro will start shipping to Australia, China, France Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the UK from "late March".

"We are eager to see people and businesses in more countries get a chance to experience this new category of devices," said Panos Panay, corp veep for Microsoft Surface.

Some people Stateside are STILL keen to "share the experience" but Microsoft got its forecasting wrong, as well as the initial launch date.

Retail outlets across the Atlantic ran into shortages almost immediately after the Pro was launched last month, and even an upgrade offer on the 64GB version fell flat.

But last night Redmond said it was "working super hard to get new inventory into retail but recognise demand exists in other countries as well".

The recent experience with Surface RT might have shaped the stocking strategy - only 722,000 units were sold worldwide in the run-up to Christmas following its launch in late October.

Part of the reason for this was its limited distribution - Microsoft initially sold it directly before hauling on board a couple of retailers including John Lewis and Harrods, a mistake it could be replicating with Pro.

Microsoft's Panay said the Pro offers "the best of a tablet and a PC", Some channel partners view the device as suitable for business customers, but so far there has been no confirmation of wider routes to market.

Salman Chaudhry, mobile PC analyst at Context, said he had two reservations about Pro: that Microsoft would bypass the B2B channel and that the product would be priced to fail.

"The 128GB version is $999 in the US without a keyboard so it is safe to say it will be £800 in the UK and somewhere between £900 to £1,100 for the full package (including keyboard).

"Given the overall economic situation and the dynamics of the PC market it will be a premium product," he told us, "and it is not going to go through the right channels". ®

* Since the publication of this article, Microsoft has updated the wording on an entry on its Surface blog to say: "The Surface Pro will be heading to Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the United Kingdom in the coming months." But it still maintains that the rollout will begin at the end of March. We'll keep you posted.

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