San Francisco - It's not only Apple that can stoke a tablet frenzy.
Microsoft has sold out of the cheapest version of its Surface tablet computer within a day of the new device being available for pre-order, it emerged on Wednesday.
The devices are due to hit shelves on 26 October but were made available for pre-order on Tuesday on Microsoft's website.
Buyers wishing to purchase the $499 basic model, featuring 32GB of memory, without the optional keyboard-cover, were informed on Wednesday that shipment would take place within three weeks. Versions with more memory or including the cover were still available for shipment on 26 October.
The Surface marks a major departure for Microsoft, which in the past has refrained from manufacturing its own computer devices, beyond the Xbox gaming console.
The tablet computers are debuting in conjunction with Windows 8, the company's new operating system, which chief executive Steve Ballmer has called the most important launch in Microsoft history.
The technology giant, whose dominance is based on software for personal computers, lags far behind Apple and Google in the market for mobile and tablet devices, which are drawing away customers from traditional computers and laptops.