Surface Pro Shortage: Is Tablet Sold Out or Understocked?

Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet is largely sold out at some retailers. Many wonder if it's a case of overwhelming demand or if Microsoft staged a limited release.

Bill Gates already has one, but some shoppers looking for Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet were out of luck when they went looking for the tablet this weekend.

The company's online store quickly sold out of the 128GB Surface Pro and remains out of stock as of this writing. On the other hand, the 64GB is available and ready to ship. Best Buy's Website points to across-the-board shortages of both versions.

The 64GB and 128GB versions of the device are not available for shipping from Best Buy and few physical Best Buy locations have them in stock. At Staples, the 128GB model is out of stock and listed as an "online-only" offering. The 64GB version is only available in select locations, and even then, they report low—and presumably dwindling—stock.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's retail distribution strategy is coming under fire again. When Surface RT launched, the company was criticized for making the device available only through its online and brick-and-mortar stores, which crimped demand.

Now, even with more retail partners onboard, Microsoft can't seem to properly gauge the market.

Without fail, those that couldn't get their hands on a Surface Pro flooded tech Websites and blogs. Amid some early impressions and a smattering of criticisms, several commenters on sites such as Engadget said that their efforts to buy one were fruitless. Most of Best Buy and Staples locations that they phoned or visited in person received only a few units, or in some cases, just one tablet.

Microsoft is working on it, according to Panos Panay, corporate vice president and Surface head. He used Twitter to respond to the numerous reports of a Surface Pro shortage.

"We’re excited for the response to Pro. Some are having trouble getting it. Sorry you’re having to wait. We’re working hard to get u Pro ASAP," tweeted Panay.

The software giant has reason to get more Surface Pro into the marketplace. Apple, eyeing an opportunity in the enterprise, started selling a 128GB version of the iPad just days before Surface Pro was released.

Unlike the less costly RT version ($499 to start), the Surface Pro ($899) is powered by an x86 processor from Intel, enabling it to run Windows 8 Pro and by extension practically all of the software written for the Windows ecosystem. The ARM-based Surface RT can only run Windows 8 style apps (formerly Metro).

Reviews are mixed, although most praise having the power and performance of a laptop in a tablet form factor. Among the negatives are its un-tabletlike battery life and a software image that takes a big bite out of the device’s built-in storage.

In a Reddit AMA (ask me anything), Panay and the Surface team responded to the Surface Pro storage controversy. They replied, "Initial reports out regarding available disk space were conservative (e.g. 23GB available on 64GB and 83GB available on the 128GB system), however our final production units are coming in with ~6-7GB additional free space."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...