Microsoft Surface RT patch and production increased
Expanding the device's availability in third-party shops
Microsoft has announced an increase in production for its Surface RT tablets as it looks to sell them in third-party stores, along with an update to make the devices' wireless connections more reliable.
The software update, released late last night as part of Microsoft's monthly 'Patch Tuesday' update cycle, addresses two issues with the wireless connectivity in Windows RT, the cut-down ARM-compatible version of Windows 8 that powers the Surface RT tablets. The first problem results in an inability to connect to Wi-Fi access points with "non-standard-ASCII special characters" in the name. The second, and more broad-ranging, affects all wireless connections and can result in the device reporting "limited Wi-Fi connectivity" and refusing to allow access to the internet.
With those bugs fixed, Microsoft has also announced that it is boosting production of the tablet devices - despite reports that sales are slower than expected - and branching out the device's distribution, releasing the tablets to retail partners including Staples and Best Buy in the US as well as its own Microsoft Stores.
This could be a key factor in increasing the Surface RT's appeal: with customers largely unable to try the device before they purchase, the high-price tablet is a difficult sell in countries where no Microsoft Stores exist.
Microsoft's push to sell the Surface RT comes ahead of the launch of the Surface Pro, a heavier alternative with a higher-resolution display, an Intel Core i5 processor and the fully-featured version of Windows 8. Unlike the Surface RT, however, the Surface Pro achieves only half the battery life and comes without the cut-down copy of Microsoft Office included with its ARM-based RT equivalent.