In July, Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operating officer, told company partners to expect pop-up stores during the holidays.
Microsoft's sales strategy for the Surface requires it to walk a fine line, said Baker. "It's more complicated for them than, say, Amazon," he said, referring to the e-tailer that has struck deals with brick-and-mortar chains to sell its Kindle tablets. "Because Microsoft has both OEM and retail partners, they have to tread lightly."
While retailers would love to get their hands on the Surface -- Baker said demand will be high for the Microsoft-branded tablets -- the company's OEM partners would feel differently. "Not making deals with retailers will make their OEMs feel a little better," said Baker.
Some computer makers -- called "original equipment manufacturers," or OEMs -- have voiced their displeasure at Microsoft stepping on their turf.
The pop-up stores Microsoft announced today were:
U.S.: Atlanta (Perimeter Mall); Aventura, Fla. (Aventura Mall); Beachwood, Ohio (Beachwood Place); Bethesda, Md. (Montgomery Mall); Braintree, Mass. (South Shore Plaza); Charlotte, NC (Southpark Mall); Columbia, Md. (Mall in Columbia); Denver (Cherry Creek Shopping Center); Durham, NC (Streets at Southpoint); Frisco, Texas (Stonebriar Centre Mall); Garden, City, NY (Roosevelt Field Mall); Glendale, Calif. (Glendale Galleria); Indianapolis (Fashion Mall at Keystone); Las Vegas (Fashion Show Mall); Miami (Dadeland Mall); Nashville (Mall at Green Hills); Natick, Mass. (Natick Collection); New York City (Time Warner Center -- The Shops at Columbus Circle); Oklahoma City (Penn Square Mall); Paramus, NJ (Westfield Garden State Plaza); Pittsburgh (Ross Park Mall); Portland, Ore. (Washington Square); San Antonio (North Star Mall); San Francisco (San Francisco Centre); St. Louis (Saint Louis Galleria); Tulsa, Okla. (Woodland Hills Mall); West Hartford, Conn. (Westfarms Mall); Woodlands, Texas (Woodlands Mall)
Canada: Burnaby, British Columbia (Metropolis at Metrotown); Edmonton, Alberta (West Edmonton Mall); Toronto (Eaton Centre); Vancouver, BC (Oakridge Centre)
Microsoft has not yet released prices for the Surface for Windows RT tablet.