Microsoft is expanding the number of retail outlets through which it's selling its Surface with Windows RT tablets -- starting as early as this week -- and is increasing production of the branded device.
Microsoft did not mention names of specific retailers who will now be selling Surface tablets. But, office supply retailer Staples said it would begin carrying the product on Wednesday.
"The public reaction to Surface has been exciting to see. We've increased production and are expanding the ways in which customers can interact with, experience and purchase Surface," said Panos Panay, general manager, Microsoft Surface, in a statement.
In recent weeks, industry analysts have speculated that the Surface tablet running Windows RT, which went on sale Oct. 26, has been a slow seller. Some have put expected sales for this quarter at less than 1 million units. Microsoft has not disclosed sales figures for the product.
News that Microsoft intends to boost production of Surface tablets could mean the product is selling better than observers believe. The decision to broaden sales beyond Microsoft's website and Microsoft retail stores in the U.S. and Canada, however, could also mean Microsoft has concluded that its limited distribution is crimping sales.
"Our plan has been to expand the retail presence for Surface after the first of the year. Based on interest from retailers, we are giving them the option to carry Surface with Windows RT even earlier," said Steve Schueler, corporate vice president, Microsoft retail sales and marketing, in a statement.
The announcement of expanded retail distribution of Surface tablets did not appear to apply to the company's solution provider channel. Microsoft did not immediately return a request for more information on the extent of the company's new distribution plans.
Microsoft also has been selling Surface through a number of the company's temporary holiday stores. Tuesday the company said it would continue operating all of those stores into 2013 and will convert some of them into permanent Microsoft stores.
Surface with Windows RT, which is based on an ARM microprocessor, has a starting price of $499. Late last month Microsoft said the Intel-based Surface for Windows 8 Pro, which is scheduled to begin shipping in January, will carry a starting price tag of $899.
PUBLISHED DEC. 11, 2012