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According to today's Surface blog the six countries are Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan. The Surface Pro and Surface RT will be available there "in the coming months."
[IN DEPTH: Microsoft's Surface for Windows 8 Pro
TEST YOURSELF: The Windows 8 quiz
NAVIGATE: 12 essential Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts]
With luck the supply of the machines will be better in these countries than it has been in the U.S. and Canada, where Microsoft has run out of Surface Pros twice. Microsoft hasn't spelled out the reasons for the shortages.
"We are focused on meeting demand in current markets for Surface Pro and are working super hard to get new inventory into retail but recognize demand exists in other countries as well," the blog post says. "We are committed to working with our retail partners to ensure we are delivering a great experience in the above mentioned countries for our customers."
"Microsoft is about to embark on a second wave of Windows 8 client hardware promotions and user education," according to a Computerworld article from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The story quotes Christopher Flores, director of communications for the Windows client division, who was interviewed at the show, where Microsoft is said to be keeping a low profile but meeting with partners off-site.
This new promotional wave might have something to do with the launch this week of Office 365, which has been redesigned for the touch capabilities that are such a key part of Windows 8. Demonstrating new Office features that Windows 8 supports better than Windows 7 might move some customers to accelerate their decisions to adopt the new operating system.
Rumors have swirled for weeks that Microsoft is working on Windows Blue, the next iteration if its operating system. If the company follows past release patterns, this won't be the major transformation that Windows 8 was. More likely it will represent what might be called a service pack in earlier Windows operating system releases.
There's even a projected date for when Windows Blue (that's just a code name) will reach the release-to-manufacturer stage: June 7, according to a post on a Chinese-language site that was discovered by Mary Jo Foley.
The site, Win8China, doesn't attribute where it got its information, but seems to assert that Windows Blue will become the commercial version by the end of the summer. It's hard to tell exactly from the translation of the site provided by Google Chrome.
Here's how the translation reads, in part: "The development cycle time RTM version completed in the mid-term of 2013 (the beginning of the end of June -7), MSDN and other users will then use the priority, and then in August it will be open to all Win8 user upgrade download, as well as pre-installed into the new devices inside a PC, Tablet PC, laptop, ultra-extreme."