Microsoft is expanding distribution of its Surface tablet/PC devices via authorized distributors and resellers, company officials announced on July 1.
Starting in the U.S., Microsoft is authorizing CDW, CompuCom, En Pointe, Insight, PC Connection, PCM, Softchoice, Softmart, Software House International and Zones to sell Surface Pro and RT devices. "Over the next few months," Microsoft officials said they will authorize commercial distributors and resellers in more countries.
Microsoft also plans to expand its education offer for the Surface RT -- offering devices for $199 via qualifying schools and universities purchasing direct from Microsoft -- into the commercial channel starting with the U.S. resellers "in the coming weeks," officials said today.
Authorized Surface resellers will be able to offer Microsoft's extended warranty, as well as their own services, including asset tagging, custom imaging, kitting, onsite service and support, device recycling and data protection, according to Microsoft.
When Microsoft launched the Surface RT, it originally launched in eight markets, only three of which had physical stores. Microsoft officials said Surfaces are currently available in 29 markets and 10,000-plus physical stores worldwide.
Microsoft also unveiled on July 1 a new independent software vendor (ISV) program, AppsForSurface, which will be providing devices and funding for app design of key enterprise apps for Surface and Window 8. ISVs already signed up include Citrix, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sage and healthcare developer Airstrip, Microsoft officials said.
Microsoft has been stepping up its Surface discount deals as of late. There's still no word on when the Softies plan to add new Surface devices to its current mix, but sources have indicated that Microsoft plans to field an eight-inch mini Surface device some time this year. There's no official word as to when or even if Microsoft plans to add Haswell-based Intel Surface devices to its line-up.
Update: It does look as though the 256 GB Surface Pro models will be added to the Surface stable. CDW has a page listing them for $1,199.99 (with no cover), with availability noted as four to six days. The 256 GB model debuted in Japan in June.