While Surface units are still not available in Australia, Aussie companies who are champing at the bit to give Surface design and development a try can now at least get access to the SDK and simulator, and get started working on Surface applications.

Microsoft partners can now sign up to the Surface Partner Program. The entry level (“Microsoft Surface Community Members”) provides access to the SDK and simulator, as well as training and other resources. No commitment.

Clarification: this is the Workstation edition of the SDK, not the full SDK which comes with a Surface developer unit. What does that mean? The Microsoft Surface SDK Workstation Edition is meant for developing applications on a PC using a simulator. Having the Workstation Edition of the SDK gives Microsoft Partners a chance to do some investigation on using the WPF controls and do some initial Proof of Concept work. The simulator lets you simulate tags or multiple mice, but of course to really nail the correct user experience for Surface, you need to refine the design with an actual unit.

If you’re not already a Microsoft Partner, check out the Microsoft Partner program. It’s free to sign up.