Microsoft steps up Surface RT tablet efforts

Sales of Microsoft’s Windows 8 RT tablet may be less-than-stellar, but Redmond remains determined to promote its flagship tablet in mainstream retail stores.

“Our plan has been to expand the retail presence for Surface after the first of the year,” Microsoft rep Steve Schueler confirmed. “[However], based on interest from retailers, we are giving them the option to carry Surface with Windows RT even earlier.”

Indeed, Microsoft’s Surface RT is now currently available at both Staples and Best Buy  at a starting price of $499 for 32GB (without a touch cover), $599 for 32GB with a touch cover and $699 for 64GB with a touch cover.

It should probably also be noted that Redmond seems to be moving ahead with plans to release additional mobile hardware. As industry insider MS_nerd (via BGR) recently reported, the Washington-based company is preparing at least three Surface tablets that may very well hit the market by the end of 2013.

The first tablet – apparently dubbed the Surface RT 2 – will boast a 8.6-inch display, along with a Qualcomm chipset instead of Nvidia’s Tegra CPU which powers the current Surface RT.

The second device, reportedly an 11.6-inch Surface Pro, could be equipped with a yet-to-be-released AMD Temash APU instead of the current Intel Core i5 processor. Finally, Microsoft is said to be eyeing the design of a Surface Book with a with a 14.6-inch display and Intel 22-nanometer Haswell chip.

Promoting additional tablets at various price points does seem to be a sound strategy for Microsoft, although the company definitely faces an uphill battle in its efforts to compete with the extensive ecosystem offered by Apple’s iPad and the plethora of Android devices on the market.