Surface RT begins its escape from Microsoft retail stores

Microsoft has altered its approach to selling Windows RT tablet/notebooks, at least in Australia, where it will start selling them in Harvey Norman and JB Hi Fi stores.

By doing so Microsoft is abandoning its initial sales strategy for Windows RT of selling the devices only in Microsoft brick and mortar stores in what CEO Steve Ballmer called a controlled release.

The shift in Australia may spread to the U.S., as rumors that started last week call for Surface RT to start appearing in major U.S. retail stores.

According to a story in the Australian Financial Review, Harvey Norman will sell the devices starting Friday. The spin put on the story by that publication is that customers will be able to compare Surface RT side-by-side with other tablets such as its major competitor the iPad, something that was not possible in Microsoft Stores unless customers brought in their own iPads.

Microsoft hasn’t said anything one way or the other, and has made no announcements about how well Surface RTs are selling.

Microsoft had planned to shift Surface RT sales into retail stores in January, but moved up the date, according to Paul Thurrott’s blog on WindowsItPro.

In the U.S. Microsoft will stick to the original plan, he says, placing Surface RT in Staples and Best Buy stores about the time it releases Surface Pro laptops in late January.

The backdrop here is that sales of the consumer-oriented Surface RT are speculated to be slow, prompting Microsoft to alter its sales strategy. Microsoft hasn’t released sales figures for Surface RT.

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