As rumored last week, Microsoft is expanding distribution of its Surface tablets beyond Microsoft's own brick-and-mortar and online stores, starting as of mid-December.
The company also is making some of its holiday popups permanent stores, according to a December 11 announcement.
The U.S. and Australia will be first to get more retail stores carrying the Surface RT. "Additional availability will be added in a number of countries in the coming months," according to a Microsoft press release.
Microsoft officials are claiming the expanded retail presence was planned after the first of 2013, but that retailer interest in the Surface RT is leading to the company offering it to retailers even sooner. There is, predictably, no mention in Microsoft's press release of the expansion of distribution being the result of rumored slow Surface RT uptake.
Windows SuperSite's Paul Thurrott said his sources told him a couple of weeks ago that Microsoft planned to make the Surfaces available via Best Buy and Staples in the U.S.
I've asked Microsoft for a list of retail chains that will offer the devices, as well a list of the other countries where distribution will be expanded. No word back so far on either query.
Update: A Microsoft spokesperson said the company is not commenting on which countries or stores will get Surfaces, beyond Australia and the U.S. Microsoft also is not commenting on which Microsoft pop-up stores will become permanent. I have heard from my sources that the Times Square New York may be one of them.
Update No. 2: Staples is confirming it will be carrying Surface RTs starting December 12.
Update No. 3: @WP_DownUnder is hearing Harvey Norman and JB-HiFi are likely the first retailers to get the Surfaces in Australia.
Update No. 4: Best Buy also is selling the Surface RT, according to its own Web site.