Well played, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) . The new Surface with Windows 8 Pro -- the usable version of the usable model -- is sold out.
The software giant's 128-gigabyte tablet running Windows 8 Pro is out of stock through Microsoft's online store. The handful of tablets allocated to the only two retailers stocking the Surface also appear to have run out of the device.
We know what Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) has done after successful launch weekends. The tech giant has shouted its record sales numbers from the Cupertino rooftops. Microsoft hasn't followed suit. Issuing a press release singing the praises of heavy demand would be incomplete without providing an actual figure on the supply, and it's easy to see why Microsoft doesn't want to do that.
When the original Windows RT-fueled Surface hit the market in October, Microsoft also was out of stock of one particular model. A few weeks later, analysts were slashing their sales targets. As the understandably biased Apple Insider blog points out, the Zune HD also sold out at its launch four years ago.
So where do we go from here?
It's easy to see why nobody wants the 64-gigabyte model. By Microsoft's own admission, the entry-level Surface with Windows 8 Pro has just 29 gigs of available storage out of the box. Who wants to pay $900 for a tablet so limited? The allure of running Windows 8 is tacking on Office and other Windows software, but one can only imagine what the data capacity will be after those programs are downloaded.
In other words, the $1,000 128-gig model -- or $1,130 once you add the keyboard cover -- is really the only Surface worth owning. Reader comments on Microsoft's blog are expressing frustration at retailers that didn't have many -- if any -- of those tablets available this weekend.
Microsoft can argue that this is a good problem to have. It's better to be Microsoft with not enough tablets than it was to be BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY ) with too many unwanted PlayBook tablets two years ago. BlackBerry had to slash prices to clear them out. Microsoft won't have to worry about that at the moment, though one has to wonder how long it will be before the RT models are put to pasture.
History will reveal if this weekend's Windows 8 Pro launch was another Zune HD or if Mr. Softy finally has a hit on its hands. Until Microsoft has proved that it can score a hardware hit other than the Xbox console, the smart bet has to be on the side of skepticism.
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