A lack of devices in retail stores hasn't helped Windows 8's initial prospects, and Microsoft is now focusing on the back to school period and the holiday season to ensure Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 devices are readily availablePart of the tonic, of course, is to follow the trend of opening "a store within a store" at Best Buy ( BBY) locations across the country. That would be fantastic if Best Buy provided a snowball's chance in Midtown Manhattan of putting Windows' tablets on the radar. There's something Microsoft and Best Buy just don't understand. It's not about third-party availability. In fact, success or failure selling a device like Surface has little to do with that. If the Surface tablet was relevant in the first place, Microsoft would never have needed to lower its price so quickly and it would compete at slightly above a pathetic level where it's side by side with Apple ( AAPL) retail stores. If Microsoft could actually sell Surface tablets in the major markets where it has its own retail outlets (New York City, Northern and Southern California, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Boston, Denver, Atlanta, Mall of America in Minnesota, etc.), we would not be having this conversation. Along similar lines, if Apple cared about its image anymore, it would pull its products from most third-party retailers, starting with hapless and hopeless Best Buy. Because it's the major markets, where Apple and Microsoft already have significant retail presences, that matter. The issue isn't about sales channels; it's about the devices. Both the quality of the devices and the marketing. Microsoft blows on both counts; Apple doesn't. For goodness sake, Microsoft is so close to Apple stores in some locations that Apple, unknowingly, provides Microsoft with free advertising!