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Microsoft's Surface PC still beyond developers' reach

The software maker is showing the tabletop computer to its partners on Thursday, but it will be until April before they can do much more than look at the device.

Microsoft shows off its Surface computer in May Ina Fried/CNET

DENVER--On Thursday, Microsoft plans to show its partners the Surface computer that it introduced in May. But it will be a little while longer before most partners get a chance to do more than look at the tabletop computer.

Allison Watson, the head of Microsoft's partner efforts, plans to show off the touch-based device as part of a talk she is giving on Microsoft's innovation pipeline. Watson also plans to announce the company is forming a partner advisory council to help the company decide how it should open up the product to outside developers.

"Starting in April, I think the hope is we can launch an actual (software development kit) for partners," Watson said in an interview at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference here. "Before we do that, we thought we'd bring in real partners to help us."

For now, Microsoft is focusing the device, which costs around $10,000, on the hospitality and gaming and retail markets. Software development is limited to a few handpicked partners.