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Microsoft wants to bring Surface home sooner

CEO Steve Ballmer says the company has gotten a lot of pressure to build a home version of its tabletop PC.

When people get a chance to try out Microsoft's Surface touch-screen tabletop computer, they often wish they could take one home.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Monday that the company is trying to speed up that process after getting a lot of demand for a consumer version.

Mark Bolger, director of marketing for Microsoft's surface-computing effort, shows off the company's new touchscreen tabletop PC last May. The company is still working to ship the product. Ina Fried/CNET

When Microsoft announced its plans for Surface last spring, the stated plan was to bring the technology to consumers eventually, but the company warned that it could be five years before a version of the products would be on shelves at the local Best Buy.

But the company got a lot of pushback on that timing, Ballmer said.

"We're going to follow our nose," Ballmer said, indicating that Microsoft hopes to shorten the gap before a consumer version is available.

That said, at the moment, Microsoft still has its hands full trying to ship the first machines to its handful of early customers: folks in the hotel, casino and retail businesses. The tech giant had hoped to start having models up and running for those customers by the end of last year, but now is aiming to do so by spring.