Microsoft commits to more 128 GB Surface Pros in stores by Saturday

Microsoft commits to more 128 GB Surface Pros in stores by Saturday

Summary: Microsoft's 128 GB Surface Pro remains in short supply, but Microsoft officials are saying there will be more in stock by February 16.

SHARE:

It's been like pulling teeth to get the Microsoft Surface team to talk about what's going on with Surface Pro supply, beyond the most basic statements.

Microsoft made the Intel-based Surface Pros commercially available starting February 9. Within minutes -- or even less in some cases -- the 128 GB Surface Pros were sold out at Microsoft brick-and-mortar stores, Microsoft's online store, Best Buy and Staples. In some cases, 64 GB models sold out, as well.

I've asked a few times in the past couple of days about what caused the supply problems and when there would be more devices in stock in the U.S. and Canada. Until February 12, the answer I received, via company spokespeople, was "“We are pleased that the demand for the Surface Pro is so great. Our focus is to get ordered Surface units delivered to our customers as quickly as possible.”

Not so helpful.

But during a Twitter chat on February 12, Panos Panay, the head of the Surface team, provided a few more details about availability.

saturday128gb

"We are shipping more 64gb now to BBY, Staples, MS Store and online. 128gb at BBY, MS Stores by Saturday."

A number of participants on the chat asked Panay and team why there were seemingly so few Surface Pros available. None of the Microsoft officials on the chat responded to any of those questions -- or to questions about availability of Surface Pro in countries other than the U.S. and Canada. Microsoft execs have said previously that they'd have more to say about broader Surface Pro availability in the coming weeks.

It's interesting Panay didn't say Staples would be getting more 128 GB Surface Pros. I've been hearing scuttlebutt that Staples might have intentionally decided against ordering many Surface Pros because of soft demand for Surface RTs. I asked Microsoft and Staples both for comment on this. A Microsoft spokesperson referred me to the "demand for Surface Pro is so great" statement again. A Staples spokesperson said: "We don’t publicly discuss internal plans."

Looking at the Staples.com site, there is a difference between the listings for the two Surface Pro listings. Here's the 128GB page, which says the devices can be shipped for pick-up to stores, but otherwise are orderable online only:

surfaceproonlineonlystaples

And here's the 64 GB Pro page on the Staples site, which does specify these devices are also available in brick and mortar stores:

64gbsurfaceprostaples


The Surface Pro 128 GB page doesn't mention any possibility at all of store availability -- beyond the option of paying to have devices shipped to stores -- while the 64 GB version does.

Update (February 13): One contact of mine has a different theory about why Staples isn't getting any of the 128 GB Surface Pros. He said he's heard Staples never carries the high-end model of any PCs or tablets. I have no idea whether this is true.

Many potential Surface Pro customers were frustrated because Microsoft decided against taking pre-orders for the devices, leading them to assume there'd be sufficient supply when they went to physical stores in the U.S. and Canada to get them. I've heard from a number of readers that retail employees at Microsoft Stores, Best Buys and Staples seemingly had no idea how many Surface Pros they had in stock and/or when they'd get more.

I've heard in the past couple of days that some Surface Pro purchasers have been able to reserve Surface Pro devices, but only by paying $50 for a Best Buy gift card. 

The Surface Pro is the second member of the Microsoft Surface PC/tablet family. It is based on an Intel Core i5 processor and gets between four to five hours of battery life, on average. Pricing starts at $899 for the 64 GB model. Some believe the 64 GB model is less popular because it provides only 32 GB of storage. The 128 GB model, which starts at $999 provides 96 GB of user-available storage.

Windows PC retailers like Best Buy and Staples are increasingly in the same place bookstores are. They are becoming a place for users to come in and kick tires  -- or test drive new devices -- before buying them online. I'm sure this is just one more thing that contributes to supply-chain/stocking problems.

Update No. 2 (February 13): The Surface Blog has a new post about availability. 

It now sounds like only "some" 128 GB Pro units will be available by the end of the week. From the February 13 blog post:

 "We are shipping 128GB SKU later this week to retailers, with some units available by the end of the week. Our priority (and that of our retail partners) is to fulfill orders from customers who made a reservation first."

 For those looking to get 128 GB Surface Pros in Canada from the few Microsoft Stores, Future Shops and Best Buys, there may be an additional delay, according to the post:

 "Canada is following a similar timeline but may take an extra few days to start arriving."

Update No. 3 (February 13): In what may be indicative of supply-chain issues (or just a strange one-off mistake), Surface Pro customer Andrew Hill notes he received his 128 GB Pro in a 64 GB Pro box from his Best Buy store in Missouri. He has posted pictures to his SkyDrive showing the discrepancy.

 

Topics: Microsoft Surface, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs, Windows 8

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

25 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Microsoft Store Online

    It seems like if these are only a few days away, the Microsoft Store would be allowing orders now. They're not - still just showing "Out of stock." It'll be interesting to see how this ends up going.
    1DaveN
    • there handling of this has been abysmal

      If they had allowed for pre-orders they might have had an idea of what demand was going to be like. If they had allowed people to order even when they were out of stock then they could just ship it when it was ready and adjust their production to meet the current demand. So apparently they are throwing darts at the board and completely guessing at how many they should be making. they are pissing off the very customer they should be targeting...We in the IT community are driving this demand. We are the very ones who will either recommend this product (or not). Yet time and again they keep screwing this up. Someone should be fired over this gross incompetence...
      John J. Jordan
    • Backorder

      Now they are allowing people to backorder 128s on their website, saying they will ship on March 1, 2012. So saying they were getting more in on Saturday was quite a blatant lie -- saying that they would make more available is stretching the truth.

      I have waited so patiently, but the fact is I may never get one. I may go order a Kindle Fire and a laptop by the end of the night.
      shr3d5@...
      • I agree

        I was thinking the same thing. This is basically "pre ordering". Delivery by MARCH 1st, this is laughable they clearly lied about its reapply in an attempt to appease the angry customers. This attempt to pacify them by letting them click on something that says they'll get one in two weeks is no different than just making it available two weeks from now. Which is STILL a supply shortage!!
        Kendrick Griffin
  • Staples and 64GB

    I bought the only unit shipped to my local Staples this Saturday, and the rep and manager both said they 128GB version was "online" only. Definitely disappointed in the lack of availability overall for these things. I sure hope MS was not trying to create artificial scarcity. No one is going to believe these are as popular as a new iThing anyway.
    saminsimi
    • Staple looks to be doing that a lot more of late with a lot of products

      Things they used to stock are "online only" now, I guess to free up inventory and space for products they think they can sell more of out of their stores, so therefor not having to stock in greater quantities at each store if not neccesary.

      Maybe they honestly believed the 64GB models would sell faster then the 128GB models?
      William Farrel
  • Microsoft commits to more 128 GB Surface Pros in stores by Saturday

    I should line up early then buy a couple of them and sell them for twice the price. They are out of stock so the demand is there and not only do I make some extra cash but it will count as sales of the Microsoft Surface too.
    Loverock-Davidson
    • Good luck with that

      I doubt your the first to think of that ( in fact, your not. 128GB Surface's showed up on eBay after they sold out the first time).
      icyrock
    • Assault Style Guns would be a better investment.

      Assault Style Guns would be a better investment. A guy bought a $1,200 machine gun and sold it for $43,000
      Tim Jordan
      • Yeah, but, do any of them come with a keyboard, or with an i5 CPU?

        Otherwise, nice try at being tangential.
        adornoe
    • Re: and sell them for twice the price.

      So how did that go?
      ldo17
  • Thanks, Mary Jo

    I figured you were holding back on saying anything until you actually had something to say. I'll head over to BBY tonight and see if I can place an order for one. Or two...
    Sir Name
  • I win the bet!

    I bet SJVN they would sell more than 3.
    jvitous
    • You lose.

      Estimates are they shipped at least 21,000 to brick and motar stores. And they all sold out.
      Narg
  • More Surface Pros?

    Wait, like 5 more to sell? Unbelievable success.
    polarcat
  • If what they are saying is accurate?

    If what Microsoft is saying is true, then why is everyone locked out from ordering on-line on the Microsoft site, which is still locking out to potential customers? Can't be supply if Microsoft will be supplying store by Saturday? Something is really wrong with this entire picture. They have really messed this up. You don't lock out customers from ordering unless you have nothing to supply them and that means nothing to supply them for a long time. Very poor rollout is the only conclusion that one can make at this point. None of this makes any sense.
    BruinB88
  • Surface in the Channel

    Ouch! CRN had some harsh criticism for Microsoft for keeping partners in the dark about anything related to the Surface launch and for not including them to help promote Surface in the commercial/business channels.

    http://www.crn.com/blogs-op-ed/the-final-cut/240144317/the-worst-channel-decision-of-2012.htm

    http://www.crn.com/news/mobility/240148184/retail-folly-why-microsoft-surface-losses-will-result-in-a-new-channel-strategy.htm
    Kenstervibe
  • Who's Fault That Brick & Mortar Are Becoming Retail Libraries?!

    Thanks for the update, Mary Jo. I agree with my fellow posters that this whole process is playing out like "Hunger Games" redux. Good luck my fellow technophiles this weekend.
    I do need to speak to your last sentence, however. I feel little sympathy for the local retailers current dilemma. Have you been to a Staples, or Best Buy lately to buy tech?
    As a customer, I feel assaulted by high-pressured "up-sell" and "extended warranty" pitches made several times. I almost have to become rude to get across the idea that I'm not interested in anything beyond my initial purchase.
    To get more home-grown sales, retailers desperately need to re-think their customer support philosophy and sales handling. Otherwise, they can join their fellow "Circuit Cities" and other big box dinosaurs into the tar pits of irrelevancy.
    onlinejimk@...
    • Support isn't free

      The problem with that concept is that hiring technical support on a store-by-store level is not cheap. The B&M retailers already have more overhead and can rarely match pure price.

      Actually in some places its starting to reverse a bit - now Amazon has to charge both tax AND shipping in my state. So the margin is shrinking. This doesn't help with smaller retailers that can still get away with only charging shipping. (and you are paying shipping even when the shipping is "free" its just included in their margin -- and you pay tax on it when its not separated)

      The reason I don't buy a lot of items locally is selection as much as price.
      RedWolfeXR
  • Surface! She is only for US and Europe (some of).

    I love to see it in my hand since S-RT, but we don't get that chance till S-PRO come out.
    Soe Thiha