Microsoft claims Surface 2 and Pro 2 are 'close to selling out'. Really?

Is there lots of demand for Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 or just limited supplies and good marketing?

Microsoft didn't fare so well in its first bid to sell Surface tablets, but the company is claiming it's nearly run out of its Surface 2 and Pro 2 tablets.

Does Microsoft have a hit on its hands with the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2? If running out of supplies during a pre-order campaign is an indication of buyers' interest, Microsoft's second stab at slates could be working out better than its first attempt.

"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," the company announced on its Surface blog last week, pointing out that it already sold out of accessories such as the Touch Cover 2.

While tales of supply constraints are possibly a good marketing strategy — and one that seems to preceed every new iPhone launch — Microsoft, wisely, could be taking a much more cautious approach to inventory levels for the next generation of Surface tablets. As we know, it took a $900m charge on Surface RT inventory as it dropped prices for the device to clear them out. 

This time, it may have been more circumspect and simply manufactured far fewer devices. Microsoft is now warning would-be buyers — anyone that would read its Surface blog, for example — that "we have limited availability" and so it's encouraging them to pre-order the device to ensure they can get them when they arrive in stores on 22 October. Again, without hard numbers from Microsoft, it's hard to tell where marketing ends and real demand begins however.

Microsoft's US and UK stores are both still indicating the devices are available for pre-order, so presumably it hasn't reached the end of its supplies just yet.

On the other side, Microsoft is taking the same story to developers, flagging that the devices are almost sold out and that "all those buyers are gonna need apps" — Microsoft's other big challenge other than building attractive hardware. At the time of its Surface RT write down, the platform had only attracted about 100,000 apps.

ZDNet has asked Microsoft how many Surface tablets have been pre-ordered and will update the story if it receives one.  

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