Whenever Apple opens a new retail store, it's a major event with fanbois lining up to be the first to grace its stone tile floors. By comparison, Microsoft's foray into the retail market will be a quiet affair – almost tentative – beginning with 32 pop-up stores to open in the US and Canada for the holiday season.
Microsoft has yet to give any details as to exactly when these stores will open, other than to say we can expect them to start appearing "this fall." Late October or early November seems likely, since October 26 is when Redmond plans to launch both Windows 8 and its much-ballyhooed Surface tablets.
There's no word on whether any of these stores is expected to remain open permanently after the holiday season, although Microsoft told attendees of last year's Worldwide Partner Conference that it plans to open 75 permanent stores by 2014.
Thanks to a trademark filing in October, we already have some idea of what these stores might look like, with "four curved tabletops at the front and rear side walls and a rectangular band displaying changing video images on the walls."
Here is the full list of the holiday store locations to open in the US:
- Atlanta, GA (Perimeter Mall)
- Aventura, FL (Aventura Mall)
- Beachwood, OH (Beachwood Place)
- Bethesda, MD (Montgomery Mall)
- Braintree, MA (South Shore Plaza)
- Charlotte, NC (Southpark Mall)
- Columbia, MD (Mall in Columbia)
- Denver, CO (Cherry Creek Shopping Center)
- Durham, NC (Streets at Southpoint )
- Frisco, TX (Stonebriar Centre Mall)
- Garden, City, NY (Roosevelt Field Mall)
- Glendale, CA (Glendale Galleria)
- Indianapolis, IN (Fashion Mall at Keystone)
- Las Vegas, NV (Fashion Show Mall)
- Miami, FL (Dadeland Mall)
- Nashville, TN (Mall at Green Hills)
- Natick, MA (Natick Collection)
- New York, NY (Time Warner Center – The Shops at Columbus Circle)
- Oklahoma City, OK (Penn Square Mall)
- Paramus, NJ (Westfield Garden State Plaza)
- Pittsburgh, PA (Ross Park Mall)
- Portland, OR (Washington Square)
- San Antonio, TX (North Star Mall)
- San Francisco, CA (San Francisco Centre)
- St. Louis, MO (Saint Louis Galleria)
- Tulsa, OK (Woodland Hills Mall)
- West Hartford, CT (Westfarms Mall)
- Woodlands, TX (Woodlands Mall)
And in Canada:
- Burnaby, BC (Metropolis at Metrotown)
- Edmonton, Alberta (West Edmonton Mall)
- Toronto, Ontario (Eaton Centre)
- Vancouver, BC (Oakridge Centre)
Additional stores in other countries are rumored to be announced at a later date, but so far Microsoft has not commented.
Redmond is already busy staffing up positions for the new stores, with job titles such as "Product Advisor" and "Technical Advisor" suggesting an approach similar to that of the Apple Stores, with on-site troubleshooters available to handle customer issues.
That's not the only page Microsoft is copying from Apple's playbook, either. The software giant seems so acutely aware that its stores will be compared with Apple's that it's actually banking on it. All but six of its holiday store locations will open in shopping centers that are also home to an Apple Store, and the rest will set up shop less than a mile away from the nearest one. ®