"Given the focus of the product, Microsoft's concept was, 'This is a new kind of tablet, a new kind of notebook. It's either one and both at the same time,'" said Baker. By offering a Surface RT minus a cover, Baker argued, Microsoft was muddying that message.
"They could have set $599 as the opening price," Baker said, referring to the 32GB Surface RT that does include a Touch Cover.
He was also dismissive of any interpretation of the quick sell-out of the $499 model. "[Sell-outs] don't ever really mean anything," he said. "They could have made just 10 of them, then said, 'We're out!'"
Nonetheless, out-of-stock reports are not uncommon, especially for new devices. Availability of Apple's products, particularly the iPhone and iPad, sometimes even its Mac notebooks, are regularly tracked by the technology media and bloggers as one of the few available clues to sales.
Microsoft may mention the Surface RT, and perhaps hint at early sales, during its upcoming quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts. The conference call, which will cover the quarter that ended Sept. 30, is slated to start Thursday at 5:30 p.m. ET.
The lowest-priced Surface RT is now backordered, and won't ship for as long as three weeks.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
Read more about tablets in Computerworld's Tablets Topic Center.