Queue greets Microsoft's Surface in Silicon Valley

In the heart of Silicon Valley, a queue greets Microsoft's new tablet

Microsoft's Surface attracted a line of about a hundred people when it went on sale Friday morning in Palo Alto, California.

The line outside the Microsoft Store at the Stanford Shopping Center, the closest Microsoft-run full-time retail outlet to San Francisco, began forming about six hours before the store opened.

First in line was Matthew Dien, who said he made a two-hour journey from Sacramento to be among the first on the U.S. West Coast to buy the tablet computer.

"I'm very excited about it," he said. "It's Microsoft's very first hardware and they are coming up against Apple. I've always liked Windows products and so I was very excited when I heard they were coming out with hardware."

Dien left the store about 30 minutes after it opened with a new Surface in his hands.

Most of those in line appeared to be waiting for the Surface and not Windows 8, which also went on sale Friday. There's less buzz for the new operating system, likely because many would-be users can download copies from Microsoft.

Microsoft offered a sweetener to those willing to queue: a yearlong subscription to the Xbox Music Pass worth US$100 for the first 100 customers who made a purchase.

The Surface, Microsoft's first attempt at its own tablet brand, costs $499 and runs Windows RT.

Unlike other versions of Windows, which are written to run on the x86 architecture of Intel and AMD processors, Windows RT runs on chips from Intel rival ARM. That means Surface and other Windows RT tablets can take advantage of the lower power consumption of ARM chips, but users will initially face a narrower software selection.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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