When it launched its second-generation Surface tablets and new peripherals, Microsoft told users not to expect the new Surface Power Cover or docking station until early 2014.
Something seemingly changed. The docking station is available now. (I'm not sure how long it will be, or how much stock is available, but if you really want it, hurry.)
I was alerted to the dock's early availability by reader Aaron Craig, a sys admin for risk-management company Bickmore. He ordered four Surface docking stations on October 22 and had them delivered on October 24. (He sent me pictures to prove it.)
I just checked on Surface.com and Microsoft's online store site and also see the docking stations are available for order, with the option for next-day delivery.
I've asked Microsoft if this is just a temporary situation or if the docks arrived earlier than expected. No word back so far.
Update: Windows SuperSite's Paul Thurrott told me that Microsoft execs said docking stations would be available ahead of 2014 but only in limited quantities, which I hadn't heard. So, again, if you want one sooner rather than later, it's probably best to hurry.
The Surface docking station, which costs $199.99, allows users with the original Surface Pro or the Surface Pro 2 to dock their tablets (with keyboards attached). The docking station includes a display port, audio input and output jack, an Ethernet port, as well as a high-speed USB 3.0 and three USB 2.0 ports.
Here's one shot Craig sent me of one of his just-acquired docking stations:
The Power Cover for the Surface 2, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 is still not available for order yet and is still designated as "coming early 2014" on Microsoft's Surface.com site.
Microsoft officials said the company sold $400 million worth of its first-generation Surface tablets in the most recent fiscal quarter, which ended on September 30, 2013. They also said they sold double the number of Surfaces than they did in the previous calendar quarter, but we have no way of knowing how many that means, as Microsoft hasn't released Surface sales data (and it has sold quite a number of Surfaces at a discount).
Microsoft officials also said during the company's earnings call on October 24 that demand for Surface RT units was stronger than the company expected. They noted that a number of potential Surface Pro purchasers held off on buying devices in anticipation of the Intel Haswell-based Surface Pro 2's arrival.
Microsoft began making its second-generation Surfaces, the ARM-based Surface 2 and the Intel-based Surface Pro 2, commercially available as of October 22. Microsoft also cut $100 off the price of its first-generation Surface Pro devices this week.
Update 2: That was relatively quick. As of 4 pm EST on October 25, the Microsoft Store online is showing the Surface docking station is out of stock. No word back still from Microsoft as to its ramp-up plans for supplies of the dock. (Thanks to WPCentral's Daniel Rubino for the out-of-stock pointer.)
Update 3 (October 28): Over the past weekend, I got a note from a few readers who said they found their local Staples and Best Buy stores still had some Surface docks for order.