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Steve Ballmer appears at the Microsoft event announcing the Surface tabletHow’s the Surface tablet been faring in its first few weeks of life? According to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, not badly at all.

Speaking to France’s Le Parisen, Baller said that reception to the Surface has so far been pretty good, even despite its relatively modest rollout. Microsoft primarily offers the Surface online and in stores, so sales of the device are bound to be on the low side until it ramps things up.

“Soon we will be further present in more countries and stores and that’s when discussing numbers will make the most sense,” Ballmer said.

All of that bodes well for the Surface, but it’s Ballmer’s use of “modest” that’s gotten most of the attention. Some news outlets took the word to be referring not to the device’s rollout, but rather to its sales — a confusion Microsoft has been quick to correct.

“While our approach has been modest, Steve notes the reception to the device has been ‘fantastic’ which is why he also stated that ‘soon, it will be available in more countries and in more stores,'” Microsoft said in a statement.

Translation: Yes, Surface sales have been low, but it’s not because people don’t want to buy it.

What’s funny about the situation is that it sounds a whole lot like the one that Samsung faced last year when confusion arose between the use of “quite small” and “quite smooth” in reference to the sales of the Galaxy Tab.

Dicey things, these sales numbers.

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