Microsoft's Surface Tablet got an enthusiastic welcome from Bellevue Square customers on its debut Friday morning. About 150 people were in line around 7:30 a.m. -- two hours before the Bellevue Square Microsoft Store was scheduled to open.
Paul Winder of Olympia was the first in line in Bellevue for the new device, which debuted at midnight Eastern time, said that he has never waited overnight for any product. But he wanted to make sure that he got Microsoft's new tablet.
"In the past when Microsoft comes out with something new -- like the new Xbox -- they sell out and then they don't have them for several weeks," he said. "I'll be guaranteeing myself that I'll get one."
The new device, Microsoft's debut into the tablet world occupied by Apple's iPad and Google's Nexus 7, among others, has a touch screen, a kickstand for watching videos and a keyboard integrated into a cover. It also runs Windows 8, according to the company's announcement of the product earlier this year, which also debuts today.
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Winder said that he's been looking forward to the Surface tablet, which is designed to integrate smoothly with his phone and his laptop, which run on Windows.
"It's the convenience of having a laptop and the functionality of a phone," he said. "The traditional laptop experience is not what I look forward to in the morning."
Winder also said that going to the Microsoft Store in Bellevue just worked out with his schedule. He left Olympia at 2 p.m. Thursday and waited at Bellevue Square since 4 p.m. and waited overnight with other hopefuls.
"It's been fun," he said. "The ten hours flew by. We got hot cocoa, and Microsoft bought us pizza."
Update: 11 a.m.
Crowds continued to wait for the Surface and the line grew after the opening of Bellevue Square and the Microsoft Store.
Customers have the option of buying a 32 GB tablet without a touch keyboard cover for $499, a 32 GB tablet with a touch cover for $599 and a 64 GB tablet with a touch cover for $699.
Customer Mark Cusack, who already owns an iPad, said he was just looking at the new tablets and was impressed by how they felt in his hand and by the operating system, Windows 8.
"I like the concept of being able to use a tablet as a laptop," he said.
Cusack, of Mill Creek, said that he uses both the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows computers, but that he was glad to see the Redmond-based Microsoft finally enter the tablet market.
"I'm a Mac guy -- I own a Mac computer at home," he said. "But I personally would like to see Microsoft get back in the game a bit."