OK, so Microsoft now has its own stores, and its own tablet. But will it have its own lines, too?

Yes, it’s one of the more ridiculous traditions of our tech-centric culture — the line around the block, people waiting overnight to be the first to buy some new device. Rivals poke fun at it, but right or wrong, it has become one of the hallmarks of a strong product debut.

With its new Surface tablet, Microsoft isn’t trying to make money so much as it’s trying to make a statement. Lines would speak volumes.

Not lines consisting of people wanting to score free concert tickets. (Don’t do it, Microsoft, people will just make fun of you.) No, I’m talking about honest-to-goodness rabid tech fans who can’t wait to get their hands on some cool, shiny and new thing.

And tonight there’s at least a glimmer of hope for Microsoft Surface. The $499 32GB version of the new Microsoft tablet, the lowest-priced model (without keyboard cover), has sold out of its initial (unspecified) allotment of preorders and is now backordered for three weeks.

The company is reported to be prepping up to 5 million Surface units for the launch quarter, but Microsoft hasn’t confirmed that or said how many it made available for pre-order, other than to describe it as a “special limited quantity.”

The more expensive versions ($599 and $699) with the Touch Cover keyboard are still available for receipt by launch day, Oct. 26. But people who want the $499 version on launch day will need to to go to a Microsoft Store. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll need to get in line … if Steve Ballmer is lucky.

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  • Steve

    Microsoft could juice it a bit by having the employees, who Ballmer all promised would be getting a Surface around the release date, pick theirs up in the Microsoft stores and get reimbursed later.

    • bingo

      “Sure, we’re selling the surface at a loss, but will make it up in volume.” ;)

  • Guest

    I’m already paying a man to queue up at the GeekWire pop-up store at 2nd Ave & Pine St. It doesn’t open for another month, but when it does, I will simply sweep my line-holder aside, saunter in, place seven crisp notes on the counter, and walk away with a Surface.

    • bingo

      You’re funny!

  • guest

    “it has become one of the hallmarks of a strong product debut.”
    For Apple. Samsung has done extremely well with numerous products without their retailers having line ups. IIRC, Kinect was the fastest selling device in consumer history at one stage, again without significant line ups at retailers.

  • NGM123

    If they wanted lines, why pre order the product?
    Surely better to build the hype, buy on release date via bricks and mortar stores, then pre orders after that.

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