American interest has been piqued, but not crazed, by Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7. The new mobile phone, which Microsoft hopes will mark its comeback into the mobile market, started selling in the U.S. on Monday.

American interest has been piqued, but not crazed, by Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7.

The new mobile phone, which Microsoft hopes will mark its comeback into the mobile market, started selling in the U.S. on Monday.

AT&T spokeswoman Colleen Smith said the company is “encouraged by early demand.”

“We did have lines in some of our markets across the nation,” she said. “There definitely was anticipation for the phone.” She declined to give sales figures.

T-Mobile USA, which is also selling the phones, released a statement saying it was seeing “strong interest.”

At the AT&T store in Seattle’s Pacific Place, staff said a line of people was waiting to buy the phone when the store opened.

AT&T stores have set aside space to promote the phones, with two models — from Samsung and HTC — selling for $199.99 on a two-year contract.

As of noon Monday, a T-Mobile store in Bellevue had sold three phones, and at a downtown store, a steady stream of people wanted to check out its HTC HD7, which also sells for $199. T-Mobile stores had no signs promoting the new Windows Phone.

“A lot of people focus on the fact that unless you have a line circling three times around a New York City block that you’ve launched a failure, but I think what we’ve seen is that people are interested in these alternative devices and they’re willing to take a look at them,” said Will Stofega, an analyst at research firm IDC in Framingham, Mass.

No matter how it sells, Stofega said, “It’s a monumental step forward. … It is something that’s unique and different.”

By Monday, Microsoft had already whet the public’s appetite with a television campaign, which will cost $100 million, satirizing people entranced by their phone screens. In Europe, where the phones began selling in late October, Stofega said shortages have been reported as a result of high demand and a lack of components.

Bob Carr, who lives in Bellevue, went to the T-Mobile store in the Factoria area Monday after seeing the TV commercials and ended up buying an HTC HD7. He wanted a bigger screen than the one on the HTC phone he bought two years ago, which runs Microsoft’s earlier phone software, Windows Mobile 6.0.

“At the end of the day I just want basic stuff that’s easy to see on a bigger screen,” said Carr, who works in telecom services. He wanted to be able to check e-mail, read Office documents and get driving directions.

Also, Carr said he wants to support Microsoft. “If I can support a hometown company, all things being equal, why not?” he said.

At Pacific Place, Ed Chang, a consultant based in San Francisco, stopped by the AT&T store to play with the HTC Surround.

“I think it’s a cool phone,” he said. “But I don’t know if it can beat the iPhone. It’s late in the game.”

Chang is looking for a phone to replace his BlackBerry, which he bought a year and a half ago. He said Microsoft may be able to win him over if the integration with other Microsoft software is done well. “I’m waiting to see when the dust has cleared,” he said.

Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or schan@seattletimes.com