Microsoft(s msft) announced on Tuesday it is expanding production and distribution of its Surface RT tablet. The company will be widening retail availability for the Windows slate by mid-December. The company had originally planned such expansion after the new year begins, but retailer interest is high, so it is accelerating the increased availability. Staples(s spls) will be among the first to carry the device, starting tomorrow.
Sales figures for the company’s first computer — historically, it has licensed its platform to other computer makers — haven’t been released, leaving many to question the success of the tablet. Unlike prior computers running Windows, the Surface RT uses a chip designed for smartphones, which required Microsoft to rework its operating system for the new chip. Surface RT is a tablet that can be used similar to a laptop with Microsoft Office software when paired with an optional keyboard.
Some of the temporary holiday stores Microsoft operates will also turn into permanent locations, indicating the company’s commitment in retail:
“Surface will continue to be available for purchase at all Microsoft retail stores in the United States and Canada and online in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Based on the success of the Microsoft holiday stores, the company will extend all of these locations into the new year. These stores will transition into either permanent brick-and-mortar retail outlets or specialty store locations.”
It appears that Microsoft is in the tablet game for the long haul as the result of additional production for its Surface RT device and retail investment. That shouldn’t surprise, however. Apple’s iPad(s aapl) has netted hundreds of millions of revenue dollars and to date, Microsoft has been shut of of the tablet space. Surface RT represents the company’s best chance to regain relevance in the mobile computer market, especially since some are predicting tablets to outsell traditional laptops by 2015.