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Microsoft sold out of Surface tablets in the UK... YEP, all 2,000 units

No word yet on Blighty channel expansion plans

Microsoft Surface tablets

Microsoft may have sold out of Surface devices, but if the experiences of the UK channel are a measure for the rest of Europe, that's not saying a lot.

Sources tell us that fewer than 2,000 units landed at the shores of Blighty since Redmond cleared the way for a select band of nine resellers to start peddling its wares from 15 August, three-quarters of which were the RT version.

Back orders are growing, our contacts tell us, and demand has not been overwhelming, but clearly Microsoft is forecasting more conservatively.

Channels across Europe were understood to have a "slight oversupply" said our chatty people close to Microsoft, but not to any great extent.

This may put into some context Microsoft's grandiose claims last week that it was nearly out of stock of the first generation RT and Pro models ahead of the 22 October launch of the next-generation gear.

"They didn't have much stock," said one partner, who claimed wholesalers Tech Data and Ingram Micro had fewer than 1,000 units each in the UK to distribute among the resellers.

Resellers told us they received a healthy amount of orders, but were unable to fulfil them because of stock allocation.

Redmond can't be blamed for trying to bag itself some better press than Surface has received to date from Microsoft's decision to sell it direct, weak sales and the massive $900m write-down that preceded the exit of CEO Steve Ballmer.

UK resellers among the first wave of Microsoft channel partners to get access to Surface included SCC, Computacenter, Kelway, Misco, Phoenix Software, Softcat, Software One, Insight and CCS Media.

But there is talk that the people in Redmond are preparing to expand the channel, with an Australian reseller revealing in a blog (which was subsequently pulled from its site) that Microsoft is widening access.

Stephen Parker, head of cloud strategy at NewLease, claimed in his blog that folk in Redmond had told him so, and that as of 7 October, all Aussie dealers would be able to sell Surface.

"This is an extension of true earlier programme with a limited set of 13 authorised resellers. Australia is being used as the pilot geography by Microsoft," he said.

Nod to Mary-JoFoley at ZDNet who spotted this and managed to take a screen shot before NewLease pulled the blog down.

El Chan's sources say the UK channel has yet to be briefed on any expansion plans but reckon Microsoft will not target consumers as the major adopters for the second generation.

"They are looking to the B2B market, education and some strong vertical sector plays," he said.

Microsoft said it has no changes yet planned in terms of expanding the UK channel. ®

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