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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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