updated 11:20 am EDT, Wed July 29, 2009
MS Stores in AZ and CA
Microsoft's first retail stores will launch in two cities where Apple already has a major presence, the company confirmed today. The Windows developer has signed leases both in Mission Viejo, California as well as Scottsdale, Arizona and will be surrounded by Apple retail shops. The California store will be the only one to open in the same mall as its rival, launching in The Shops at Mission Viejo, but all of them will have five Apple stores within driving distance.
The Arizona store is poised to launch in Scottsdale Fashion Square, roughly 15 minutes directly south of Apple's location.
Company communications director Kim Stocks would only say the locations were chosen as they were "hot markets." However, Microsoft has previously acknowledged that it plans to shadow Apple when possible with its stores to give customers a direct comparison between Windows systems and Macs, which it has tried to portray as a lesser value.
The firm also confirmed some of what it would sell at the stores as well as some of its expectations. It plans to primarily sell notebook PCs, software from itself as well as others, and its own Xbox 360 and Zune hardware. Stocks reiterated that the stores are primarily showcases to highlight the brand, but unlike past executives stated that its retail shops are expected to be profitable rather than just experiments to pass on information to others.
Other than a general fall launch window, no information has been made available as to how many stores will open or how much of its leaked plans will translate to the final stores. Although it has said its stores would innovate, the leak alluded to a Guru Bar that would copy Apple's Genius bar as well as similar workshops and open store layouts.