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Microsoft Surface Pro model sells out; skeptics say it was understocked

Microsoft celebrated “amazing” response to its latest model of the Surface over the weekend, with the announcement that the tablet’s 128 GB model had sold out online and in stores across the country.

“We’re working with our retail partners who are currently out of stock of the 128GB Surface Pro to replenish supplies as quickly as possible,” said Surface product chief Panos Panay in a company blog post Saturday.

The larger model of the Surface sold out almost immediately online, and some stores reported that customers were lined up outside of Microsoft, Best Buy and Staples locations in lines reminiscent of Apple launches. But once customers got to many of those stores, particularly partner retailers, they found that Microsoft had only shipped a handful of the tablets to go on shelves.

That led to plenty of chatter that Microsoft may have orchestrated a sellout by limiting the number of units it sent out into stores.

ReadWrite’s Brian Proffitt wrote that this appearance of planned scarcity reminds him of the Apple iPad 2 launch, when the company gave very limited amounts of the tablets to non-Apple stores.

Of course, Microsoft may have been working to keep itself out of a different supply pickle — putting too many Surface Pros onto shelves and having to suffer the embarrassment of seeing them languish there.

Microsoft hasn’t released sales data apart from the news that its larger model had sold out, so it will be some time before we can puzzle out whether this was really a representation of roaring demand or a supply problem on Microsoft’s end.

Reviews of the Surface Pro have been lukewarm, with many folks not quite sure what to make of the device.

The Surface Pro is generally viewed as a tablet but is probably more fairly compared to laptops. As a tablet it’s a clunky device with bad battery life. As a laptop, it’s a lightweight machine that will run legacy Windows software and works with either of Microsoft’s two models of QWERTY keyboard.

There haven’t been solid numbers on the device’s tablet sibling, the Surface RT, either, though analysts estimate that Microsoft has moved at least 700,000 units since its October debut.

Related stories:

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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