As rumored last week, Microsoft is expanding distribution of its Surface tablets beyond Microsoft’s own brick-and-mortar and online stores, starting as of mid-December. The company also is making some of its holiday popups permanent stores, according to a December 11 announcement. The U.S. and Australia will be first to get more retail stores carrying the Surface RT. “Additional availability will be added in a number of countries in the coming months,” according to a Microsoft press release. Microsoft officials are claiming the expanded retail presence was planned after the first of 2013, but that retailer interest in the Surface RT is leading to the company offering it to retailers even sooner. There is, predictably, no mention in Microsoft’s press release of the expansion of distribution being the result of rumored slow Surface RT uptake.