Hundreds line up at Bel-Square to get look at Microsoft's Surface tablet

Customers wait outside the Bellevue Microsoft store for the release of the Surface tablet and Windows 8. - Courtesy Photo, Bellevue Microsoft
Customers wait outside the Bellevue Microsoft store for the release of the Surface tablet and Windows 8.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo, Bellevue Microsoft

For web designer, Jaimie Slutzky, Window’s new Surface tablet isn’t just about functionality. It’s about aesthetics. Slutzky, who lives in Redmond and visited Microsoft’s flagship store at Bellevue Square on Friday, Oct. 26 for the product release, the tablet’s small, compact screen makes it easy to showcase her work while on the move.

She was one of hundreds of customers and window shoppers who lined up that morning at the store for its release alongside Windows 8. A handful camped out overnight to guarantee their purchase of the much buzzed about device, which features a touchscreen, kickstand and removable keypad. Many more were drawn to the promotional giveaways and DJ booth spread throughout Bellevue Square.

The Surface is the first computer made and sold by the company.

“Everything I can do on my normal laptop, I can do on this,” said Janmesh Jani, 30, a consultant for T-Mobile, as he toggled between screens at a demo station. “It can be my work and it can be my entertainment.”

Jani, who had come with his wife to purchase an Xbox, said he was a loyal user of Apple products, but was eager to try the tablet for the Windows 8 operating system.

The Oct. 26 release is part of a much anticipated new generation of products meant to revolutionize the PC experience, explained Chad Mack, a spokesperson for the flagship store. After computer sales slowed in the last decade, the tablet will have to compete with the customer base and thousands of apps associated with Apple products, Microsoft’s main competitor.

“This is the next step forward for computing,” said Mack. “It’s a fresh spin on something that I think has been long overdue.”

The company is advertising the product as a combination of work, personal life and play, with particular emphasis placed on its usability. Both children and grandparents could be seen playing with the device at demo stations across the mall.

“I came in not knowing anything about tablets,” said Chloe Lee, a member of the release party’s event staff. “It’s been really easy for me to figure out. We saw a grandma earlier today, playing with one.”

Employees were not tracking store traffic, but estimated that hundreds had stood in line at one point last Friday morning. Inside the store, customers were greeted by commercials playing on wall-to-wall screens. Everyone who purchased a tablet was treated to a free training session at the back of the store, to ensure that they knew how to set-up and work the device before leaving the mall.

“I’ll definitely give it a chance,” said Jani, who expects to use his Surface largely for work. “The only thing I’m worried about is apps. They have to catch up with the apps market.”



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