Microsoft has run through all pre-launch supplies of its Surface RT tablet, forcing U.S. and Canadian customers who want one Friday to head to the company's permanent and special holiday "pop-up" stores.
As of Saturday, the $599 32GB and $699 64GB models packaged with a Touch Cover were shipping one to two weeks after ordering.
The least-expensive Surface RT, a $499 32GB device that omitted the cover-slash-keyboard, has been backordered since last Wednesday, a day after Microsoft began taking pre-orders. On Saturday, that tablet's delay-before-shipping status remained at three weeks.
Microsoft's Canadian, French, German and U.K. stores also were out of Surface RTs. The Canadian and U.K. online stores showed one to two week delays for the two more-expensive models, and "Temporarily sold out" for the $499 tablet. The French and German outlets said all models were backordered one to two weeks.
As observers have noted, it's impossible to gauge the significance of the sell-out without knowing how many units Microsoft had allocated for pre-orders. According to some reports, Microsoft has placed orders with Asian manufacturers to produce 3 million to 5 million tablets during the fourth quarter.
Customers who want a Surface RT this week will have to trot to a Microsoft store.
Microsoft has several dozen stores in the U.S. and Canada, but none in other markets. The majority of those outlets -- 34 by last count -- are so-called "pop-up" stores, smaller, temporary locations to be open only through the holiday season at malls and shopping centers.
All store locations, including the pop-ups, are listed on the Microsoft website.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about tablets in Computerworld's Tablets Topic Center.