Continental Europeans who can't think of anything to get that special someone for Valentine's Day might condsider a Surface RT fondleslab, which Microsoft made available in 13 additional markets on Thursday.
Until now, the ARM-based tablets running Windows RT have only been available in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States, via Microsoft's online store and a smattering of retailers.
Beginning on Thursday, however, they are also on sale in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The new additions more than double the number of global markets for Surface RT, bringing the total to 21.
In most of those new markets, an entry-level Surface RT with 32GB of storage and no keyboard/cover costs €479 ($639/£412) when purchased through the Microsoft Store, just as it does in Germany. That means most European customers will pay a 28 per cent premium over what the same devices cost in the US.
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The price does vary in some countries, however. Inexplicably, the same configuration is priced at €486 ($648/£418) in the Netherlands and €489 ($652/£421) in France. It's a little cheaper in Switzerland, at 559 francs ($606/£391), but it will set you back 4,495 kronor ($710/£458) in Sweden and a wallet-draining 3,999 kroner ($715/£461) in Denmark.
High prices are certainly nothing new to Scandinavians, but Surface RT could be a tough sell at those rates, given that one analyst firm has already recommended that Microsoft cut its US prices on Surface by 33 per cent.
Still, it could be worse. In July 2012, a number of media outlets reported that the Swedish launch price for the 32GB Surface could be as high as 6,990 kronor, which has now turned out to be a 56 per cent overestimate.
At the time, the same sources also quoted a Swedish price for the Intel-powered Surface with Windows Pro. That probably should have been a giveaway that the reports weren't genuine, since Microsoft still has made no announcement as to when (or indeed if) the Surface Pro will be available to customers in international markets.
Meanwhile, reports continue to roll in citing lackluster sales for Surface RT at home – and for Windows 8 and Windows RT fondleslabs in general – casting the device's future in Europe in doubt, also.
There is at least one man outside Microsoft who is still bullish on Microsoft's ARM-based OS, however, and that's Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia, maker of the Tegra 3 system-on-chip units that power the Surface RT. Speaking during Nvidia's earnings call on Thursday, Huang said it was "hard to imagine" how Windows RT devices won't eventually be seen as "wonderful PCs."
"I believe it is essential, strategically essential for Microsoft to be on all of the major processors in the world – surely the highest volume processor in the world," Huang said. "As a software company and an operating system company, it's a market they can't afford to ignore. And so, Win RT I think will be successful as well. Microsoft will have no choice but to continue to invest in it. And it's a great company, they'll do something great with it." ®