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Microsoft expands Surface to Europe, Middle East

Microsoft Corp. will begin selling its Surface touch-sensitive computer in some European and Middle Eastern countries, the company said today at the CeBIT trade show.

Surface will now be available in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Qatar, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and the U.K.

Surface, which debuted in the U.S. in 2007, has been bought by companies such as AT&T, which configured the computer to display information about a mobile device when a customer placed it on Surface's screen. Surface has also been used for health care and financial applications and in hotels.

Surface doesn't have a mouse or a keyboard; users manipulate applications and items such as photos by tapping and dragging. Photos can be expanded using one's fingertips. The machine uses cameras to identity objects and sense hand gestures.

Microsoft said it now counts about 120 partners in 11 countries that are developing applications for Surface's interface.

Among those partners are Accenture and IT consultancy Avanade, which together created a wealth management application that helps people with retail banking, estate planning and investments.

Microsoft said Surface is priced at €13,000 ($16,357 U.S.) with five software development kit licenses. Surface alone costs €11,000 for commercial deployments.

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