Microsoft Surface Pro 3 will be the only option for some regions

Microsoft says that in some countries where its Surface Pro 2 tablet is not yet available, it never will be; the Surface Pro 3 will have to do.

Rather than introduce the device then end-of-life it within months, the company will skip the earlier version of the device altogether in those countries and go with the newer model announced last week, says Cyril Belikoff, the director of Surface marketing at Microsoft.

+ Also on Network World: Microsoft unveils Surface Pro 3 PC designed for enterprises | FIRST LOOK: Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet/PC | Reddit participants let-loose complaints over Microsoft's Surface 3 +

That still means at least months of waiting for those countries that don't yet have access to Surface Pro 2 despite its being available in the U.S. since last October. The newer Surface Pro 3 ships first in the U.S. and Canada June 20, and then to 31 other regions into which Microsoft divides the world. But that won't be for two or three months at the earliest, Belikoff says.

The unavailability of the device rankles some in countries where it's not sold. For example, a participant in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session this week, Deniz Yakamoz wanted to know when Surface would be available in her country, Turkey. The answer, written by the Surface Team in Turkish and translated by another AMA participant, was, "Since our plans aren't finalized, I definitely can't answer your question, but be certain it's at the top of my list."

Belikoff says that demand for Surface Pro 2 in countries where it is already available is strong enough that Microsoft will continue selling it and not relegate it to end-of-life.

Surface Pro 3 is larger (12-inch screen v. 10.5-inch) and has more processor options. Surface Pro 2 comes with Intel Core i5, while Surface Pro 3 has options for i3, i5 and i7 processors.

Meanwhile the company has put Surface Pro 2 on sale in the U.K., according to a ZDNet report by dropping the price of the 64GB version from 771 pounds to 569 pounds, although it's unclear whether that's to reduce inventory in anticipation of Surface Pro 3 demand.

Belikoff says in the Surface Blog that corporate customers Avande, BMW Group, The Coca-Cola Company, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy and Seattle Children's Hospital have chosen Surface Pro 3 as one of the devices their organizations issue. Despite the devices being unavailable for a month, they have committed to deploying between hundreds and thousands of them to select groups within the companies, he says.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

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