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Microsoft to expand Surface Pro sales to China next week

First market outside the U.S. and Canada to get the Windows 8 tablet

Microsoft will start selling the Surface Pro tablet in China next week, the company said yesterday.

According to the company's Chinese e-store, the Surface Pro will go on sale April 2 at 9 p.m. local time.

The Chinese debut will be the tablet's first market expansion since its U.S. and Canadian launch on Feb. 9. Microsoft first announced the Surface Pro's availability on the Chinese-language Weibo social networking service Thursday.

LiveSino.net reported earlier in the day that Microsoft was introducing the tablet in China next Tuesday.

It's been no secret that China was on the short list for the Surface Pro. Three weeks ago, Microsoft said the Windows 8 Pro-powered device would go on sale in several more markets in the second quarter, including Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the U.K.

The Microsoft Store does not shows prices for the Surface Pro, but another Chinese website, WPDang, said the 64GB model would cost 6,588 yuan, equivalent to $1,061. The higher-priced 128GB Surface Pro, meanwhile, will be priced at 7,388 yuan ($1,190).

U.S. prices for the Surface Pro are $899 (64GB) and $999 (128GB).

Microsoft has to hope that the Surface Pro does better in China than the lower-priced Surface RT predecessor: Research firm IDC pegged shipments -- which are different, usually higher, than sales -- of the latter in China at just 30,000 units during the last two months of 2012's fourth quarter. Worldwide, Microsoft shipped approximately 900,000 Surface RTs in the same period, IDC said.

Microsoft's Chinese move hints that stock shortages have been solved. While the Surface Pro is now ready to ship from Microsoft's U.S. e-store, last month the 128GB configuration's availability was spotty for several weeks following tablet's launch.

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 [email protected].

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

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