Right on schedule, Microsoft has rolled out the second wave of Surface tablets, this time running Windows 8.1 and RT 8.1. But with lukewarm critical reception, extravagant pricing structures and severe software glitches, can they wipe the slate clean and make MS money instead of bleed it?

surface 2 pro Microsoft starts selling Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets, but is anyone buying?

Judging by how many people are reported to have attended last night’s Microsoft physical store US launch parties, that’s unlikely. Not to mention of the few folks that did turn up to check out the two new Surfaces in the flesh upon their public debut, many were driven by curiosity to show up and ultimately decided to not purchase anything.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s online listings of the Surface 2 and Pro 2 seem to signal an entirely different scenario, but it could all be smoke and mirrors. The RT-based second-gen slate is only shipping on October 25 in a 32 GB variation and four days later with 64 GB of on-board storage, meaning they’re theoretically in high demand.

As for the Surface Pro 2, its October 25 and December 15 (!!!) shipping dates for 64 and 128 gigs and 256 and 512 GB versions respectively make it crystal clear everybody wants a piece of the 10.6-incher powered by the full Windows 8.1 experience. Or does it?

Surface Pro 2 Microsoft starts selling Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets, but is anyone buying?

Well, it does not, since there’s no way to know Redmond isn’t lagging the discharge of existing stocks to build hype and boost buzz.

In any case, if you’re in the market for one of the two (or both), take all those possible delays into account and be sure to check out third-party retailers as well. Microsoft’s tricks may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Oh, and about pricing, you know the drill. Be ready to break the piggy bank, as Surface RT’s follow-up goes for $449 and up and the Pro 2 begins at a whopping 900 bucks.

Sources: Surface Blog, CNet