Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) has decided to let a number of retailers, including Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS), offer its Surface tablet, perhaps to offset sales that never reached any real volume. Microsoft had adopted a strategy to make the product available on its website and in its stores — but nowhere else. While the new distribution decision may be based on the need to increase sales, Microsoft also may have observed that almost all other PC firms, including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), have bettered volume by wide product distribution.
So far, Surface accounts for just a tiny fraction of overall Web traffic, though that isn’t that surprising considering its limited distribution. The tablet is also limited to running apps designed for Windows 8; a follow-on product, the Surface Pro, will be heavier and costlier, but will be able to run existing Windows apps thanks to its Intel processor
Douglas A. McIntyre