Surface Pro expansion could help keep Windows division afloat

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Microsoft’s Surface sales may do even more to boost earnings for Microsoft in future quarters now that the Surface Pro is about to become available in more markets.

Today Microsoft announced that the Surface Pro, the version that’s more appealing to business users, will soon go on sale in many more countries. So far, it's only been available in the U.S., Canada, and China.

Before the end of May, the Surface Pro will launch in 19 countries including the U.K., Germany, Australia ,and France. Before the end of June, people in Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore and Thailand will get to buy the Surface Pro. Surface RT, which is of less interest to business users because it only runs apps purpose-built for it, is already available in 25 markets and will launch in a few more this week.

Microsoft didn’t say much about topics I’m curious about, such as pricing and retail partners, although the devices are likely to sell through the same outlets that already offer the Surface RT.

“Please understand that before making these announcements we make sure that we have the volume of devices in place and alignment with our retail partners to do each launch well,” Brian Hall, general manager of Microsoft Surface wrote in a blog post.

That wasn’t exactly the case when Microsoft launched the Surface Pro in the U.S., where it appeared that in its hurry to get to market it did so with very little stock on hand.

But assuming Microsoft has worked out the kinks of the manufacturing process to bring the Surface Pro to many more countries, sales could continue to lift an otherwise dragging Windows market.

It was a surprise when Microsoft released earnings for the quarter ending in March and reported that revenue for its Windows division was flat. That’s despite an unprecedented 14 percent drop in PC shipments during the quarter, according to IDC.

Microsoft credited Surface sales as well as enterprise volume licensing for making up the difference. As Matt Rosoff wrote, that means Microsoft’s Surface strategy is doing just what it was meant to do.

If Microsoft managed to help keep the Windows division above water with such a limited distribution for Surface Pro, the expansion into many more global markets should make even more of an impact in future quarters.

Still, there’s a limit to how long this strategy will work. Microsoft will have to keep growing its other and new businesses because as PC sales are expected to continue to drop, ultimately Windows is unlikely to be able to carry the company for many more years.

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