Verizon to start selling Microsoft Surface tablets?

Word on the street is that Verizon stores will begin to start selling the Microsoft Surface RT (review) direct to customers. In the image submitted to our forums by jrj2013, you can clearly see that at least one Verizon store has the Surface on open display. From his own account of the experience...

“I went into my local Verizon Wireless this morning and was surprised to see a demo Surface on display. The manager said Microsoft had been keeping it quiet and that they would be selling it soon. He also told me that doesn't think they'll be selling a 4G version, only the standard WiFi.”

We agree that Verizon won’t have a 4G version of the device despite selling it in their stores due to potential signal issues and perhaps to keep the price down. (Microsoft also previously cited studies showing that most people don’t use 4G enabled tablets). It is a bit odd though for Verizon to sell a device for which they cannot sell any services for—after all, that is their business as they are not Best Buy.

But perhaps Microsoft and Verizon have struck a new deal with Microsoft giving the carrier a cut of the sales. Though selling the Surface and making money is Microsoft’s goal, we think it’s also about pushing Windows 8 and the ecosystem meaning they can lose some money here and there in exchange for a higher presence. This will also help make up for the fact that you can’t walk into a Target and buy the Surface but instead have to rely on kiosks or the rare Microsoft Store.

We’ll see if Verizon actually starts to sell these but if they do, we think that’s a good move to increase visibility of the device. Thanks, jrj2013, for the image

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • I may actually buy something from Verizon. Lol glad its a surface and not a phone
  • Lol
  • That's cool, Surface need to be available in more places.  We have a verizon store in my small town but the closest pop-up MS store is an hour and a half a way.
  • Exactly.  Microsoft really needs a distribution partner for the Surface.  The closest Microsoft store to me is 3 hours away.
  • Verizon and Comcast/Xfinity have a partnership as well though. Perhaps Verizon will be touting how nicely you can stream your home cable over your home WiFi or slingbox to have a portable hidef entertainment system.
  • Or maybe it's just the device displaying promo video for the phone below it.
  • Probably not.  What was showing on the one in the Verizon store I was in this morning was showing off Win8 not Windows Phone 8.
  • Kinda strange tho?  A Verizon store?  How about Best Buy, Staples, or anything bigger then that.  Just seems so odd that Verizon would sell it.  
  • The demo areas in Verizon stores have better upkeep than in Best Buy or Staples, plus there are more of them. I could see Microsoft selling Surface devices in AT&T and T-Mobile stores as well.
  • If you display/sell it we will come.
  • Verizon might be the best candidate to push Surface to mass because all verizon data plan includes tethering so, no need for 4G Surface. So could try to sell Windows Phone 8 with Surface for subsidized cost?? Hmm if thats the case Verizon is looking better...
  • I was just in my store to see if they had any 8Xs in (they didn't but they had 822s and said they'd get their shipment this afternoon) and I saw they had a surface. I was pleasantly surprised by it. My guess is if they start selling them in stores they might offer a discount if you buy it with a hotspot or a plan that enables tethering.
  • Possibly it's a Windows Phone 8 tethering option. Maybe Verizon are going to offer some sort of Surface/Wp8/4G tethering package. That could be quite an attractive bundle - only having to buy one 4G device and SIM card.
  • I went to Verizon last sunday looking for the 8X and they told me all they received so far was a Surface. I thought it was odd, but I didn't realize it was something they'd be selling at the time.
  • This can benefit both parties. Verizon has many stores and because they are small and don't sell tons of tablets, the surface stands out. As for Verizon, they get people in their store which may get them a new phone customer, or maybe someone buys their highly marked up case for the surface. An insurance plan or other service can also get them income without having to really do something outrageous. I'm just shocked ATT isn't on that list, same thing with Data Sense on Verizon first... Could Verizon become the new preferred carrier?
  • Poor T-Mobile.
  • I kow! Tmobile is more for Android.
  • The tmoble store near me is totally anti- windows phone. I pissed me off. Any time I've asked about a windows phone they act like I'm an idiot for showing any interest in such a lame product.
  • MAYYYBE it would make sense if later there is a Microsoft Surface phone that works with the tablet?  Maybe they were BOTH supposed to be available, but only the tablet made it.  Just guessing.  Otherwise, it doesn't make much sense to have a non-cellular device sold at the cellular store.  Maybe MS just wanted to put SOMETHING up against the other tables that Verizon sells.  Or maybe the tablet was SUPPOSED to have the cellular and it didn't work well for the same reason that the tablet doesn't have NFC.
    Sounds like something isn't right.
  • I just hope Verizon selling them doesn't hurt the chances of the Microsoft holiday store here from becoming a full time brick and mortar store.
  • They may bundle it with a Mifi device like they did with iPad a few years ago
  • +1
  • The rep at my local verizon store mentioned this very thing about the Surface this morning when I visited to demo the 822 (8X had not arrived yet either at this location). I didn't really believe him when he said it. But he said he was surprised too about them selling it since it was originally thought that the surface was only available in MS stores.
  • This sounds great. I wanted be able to handle the Surface before commiting to one. Now it looks like I won't have to drive 250 miles to check one out.
  • "It is a bit odd though for Verizon to sell a device for which they cannot sell any services for"
    they could possibly push their mobile hotspot units w/ it or maybe a bundled discount?
  • Verizon will be selling them Q1 2013. So apparently they won't be available for the Holidays, but they will have a big display up.
  • Microsoft should worry instead about getting surface available in more countries... I have no Idea as to how to get one which is frustrating to say the least
  • They MSFT can't lte yet...theres patent lawsuits going on vs Motorola
  • They could also be selling USB modems like this: or Wifi Hotspots.   Or a tethering plan.  Lots of opportunities to push Verizon products. 
  • Verizon is not selling the Surface tablet. This is just so they can show the connected story with Windows 8. Since AT&T has Windows 8 tablets and T-Mobile has an Ultrabook, Verizon needed something.
  • I was in my local Verizon store today and noticed they had a Surface on display.  The salesperson made no mention of them selling the Surface.
  • People really can be pretty gullible around here.  So somoene crops an image so that you can only see the tablet screen and part of a red VZW display frame and that makes it a rtail product at VZW?  The selling point of the Surface RT is its innovative design and I see no reason Microsoft would endorse a display that fixes the device in place, hides the bezel, hides the kickstand, and does not have the marquee touch/type cover.  Sorry, but everything about this says that it is really just a display demo screen for the phones around it.  If people want this to be taken seriously, take a photo that shows the whole device and the surrounding setting.  Otherwise, this looks like a faked claim with a cropped photo to back it up.  Sort of like a tablet version of a bigfoot or UFO siting....
  • Haha why would someone do that exactly? Check the boards and previous comments - several people have reported the same thing I experienced this morning. I'm headed back to the same store to pick up my HTC 8x in a few minutes if you'd like better lighting of the surface on display there...ya know, so its less of a bigfoot sighting
  • Except you know, people saw it in person
  • It is on display at a store here in Fort Wayne, IN too.  I was able to use it and open apps and get into the setting menu. It seemed to be fully functional.  They were still putting out the wireless charging pad and the JBL speaker.  The charging pad is nokia branded but the HTC worked with both that and the speaker.
  • This is Step 1 to having "Surface Phone" released on Verizon. It gets the "Surface" brand out there in a definitive way and maybe this is Big Red's first move toward the Windows "One Platform to Rule Them All"! ;-)
  • I really hope your joking with the 1 platform to rule them all. I love Windows (phone and standard OS), and I am always an early adopter for thier products (even zunes). But there MUST be heavy competition in the market for progress to be made at a decent pace.
  • Not joking, but to be fair this is based on what the vision is as opposed to reality this instant. Apple and Google failed to uniformly bring their platform to touch-based desktops and laptops (amazingly) and also failed to bring them to the most important battleground... The family living room, where product and brand loyalty are born. Gaming is a Multi-billion dollar industry (one that you can talk about in public) and Apple and Google have failed to realize its importance. Not saying it's perfect yet, but the XBox integration alone is already making an impression with the younger set AND also the Older set who are the younger sets' parents. This is a slow but rapidly rising wave that will take Android/Google first and then sweep over Apple as well. Google is just now releasing their half-hearted attempt at something akin to AppleTV, where AppleTV was astonishingly never marketed correctly by a company known for great marketing and thus will be another casualty of the XBox and SmartGlass... Which let me just say the "you ain't (sic) seen nuthin' (sic, again) yet!". The ball is truly in Microsoft's court, only this time Microsoft is re-writing the rules of the game as the "Surface" branding will soon mature into true platform of tightly-integrated parts.
  • I like the marketing & willingness to take a loss to gain presence. Worked for the Xbox.
  • That means that VZW may cover the Surface Phone too. Makes sense to sell the Surface Tablet. Aren't most of the VZW phones set up for WiFi sharing? MORE SHARING = MORE DATA USE! (Bye Bye Unlimited Plans)
  • Buy a surface add get a Win 8 phone free on 2 yr contract. I think there will be a bundle discount.
  • "modest" indeed Mr Balmer.
  • I spoke to my Verizon rep today and he mentioned this so I say its legit
  • The rep I bought my 822 from asked me about the Surface and told me they had a demo unit. He also said they would be selling them soon.
  • They may be able to subsidize it with a mobile hotspot or something. Since it has a USB port... That's definitely not out of the question.
  • Surface does support native class drivers for USB-based mobile broadband antennas so having a tie in with telcos is not really a big suprise. Still modest though and we need more big name brick and mortar/Online retailers on board before Mr Ballmers comments can be taken out of context in a good way.
  • Yep, completely correct. They see this as the perfect device to sell as the perfect companion to their MiFi offering and such. It's a loss-leader for them if they price it correctly. Just as the "Free Printer" you get with you computer at the big-box store allows said big box store to sell you a $30 USB cable to hook it up and allows them to sell you the ink for the printer... Which ironically enough seems to run out really quickly in that "free" printer. ,-) Remember when Verizon started offering the iPad with the same "MiFi" coupling? Hot new device that can send users soaring about their monthly bandwidth limits? Sounds pretty lucrative to me.
  • Still no Surface to be seen for retail here in The Netherlands... As always...
  • This should certainly upset Microsoft partners, like ourselves, who want to sell the Surface through the channel but can't. So with Verizon there will be a selective channel to buy from? Come on.
  • I got this info from a store manager the weekend that the Surface had debuts. I took it with a grain of salt. Buy if that is the case, I'm getting the Surface with HTC 8x
  • I would be interested if it was a Lumia 922 instead. Either way, I'd read all the small print to make sure they weren't sneaking in a 2 year contract. Just sayin'!
  • Well, if i was buying a 4g phone from Verizon and saw that they had a Surface deal aswell, i would wanna buy it so it could ride the 4g from my phone. Makes perfect sense actually. Simple! 
  • Why would anybody say that Microsoft would lose money selling Surface through Verizon. This is a brilliant move. They just saved a $100,000,000 in costs relating to building out hundreds of stores around the country and hiring thousands of employees. Plus the lost sales while building out those stores. In addidtion, hundreds of thousands of people who walk into a Verizon store will now be exposed to a product they may have otherwise never considered. .
  • I saw this today at Verizon too, I was tripping my balls when I saw! FINALLY got to use Office 2013 with touch, which by the way is rather impressive. I think they might just be using the Surface to show off Windows Phone and how it and Windows 8 go hand in hand.
  • Maybe Microsoft told them they could be a Surface sales site if they promised to not have their employees slamming windows phone all the time.  The guy I talked to today tried to slam the Lumia 822 passive aggressively but I wouldn't let him get by with it.  
  • I'm thinking two things. Since the Surface is loaded into a Display that doesn't show what it is. 1) VZW will sell the Surface and release a Windows RT 4G dongle 2) VZW is getting W8 tabs soon and wanted something upASAP for display purposes. But Verizon has sold WiFi only iPad 2s and Galaxy 10.1s, so this might be the same deal just much higher profile
  • So I just went to a verizon today.  (that blue 8x is unreal and WILL be my next phone)(also went to an at&t and messed with a longer upset that Verizon isn't getting it)  I asked if they were going to be selling the Surface.  The guy said his manager has been testing one for a week or so.  The idiot also said... they'll "for sure be selling the 4G one that's coming out".  Uh.......... :/
  • Microsoft may be letting Big Red sell the Surface due to the deal that Nokia had with AT&T.  Also with the rumors of a Surface Phone, there a be a deal that Verizon has with Microsoft.  Not too far fetched. 
  • Does a Surface have Xbox preinstalled? (I read Xbox comes with any Windows 8 PC which means Xbox is going to be the largest in gaming)
  • uh....what?  There is an Xbox app, but you aren't getting an Xbox.
  • Sweet!!;
  • They renamed gaming for windows Xbox for windows or something like that....its still PC want Xbox, go Buy one =)
  • Don't worry about that, I was focusing on that rather smart move to become nr 1 in gaming.... Xbox tag; doperwtboon