20111019 microsoftstore
Microsoft store employees cheer and greet the first customers of the store at the Scottsdale Fashion Square October 22, 2009 in Scottsdale, Ariz. - 

Jeremy Hobson: Well here in this country, we'll get earnings today from Microsoft. The company has been getting a bit more aggressive with Apple recently. It hopes to open up about 75 Apple-style retail stores in this country in the next few years.

Marketplace's Steve Henn reports.

Steve Henn: This Friday, the band the Black Keys is playing a ribbon-cutting. Microsoft executives are hoping to create a little buzz around the opening of their newest retail store in Seattle.

Jeff Roster is at Gartner Research. He says you could think of these stores as laboratories where Microsoft can study these weird creatures: its customers.

Jeff Roster: Understanding how your products are being used would make any profit or loss almost a rounding error.

In other words, the stores don't have to make money to be a success. If you want to know what a Microsoft store looks like, picture an Apple store and then put the staff in bright, colored T-shirts.

And there's good reason to imitate Apple. The night Steve Jobs died, I swung by an Apple store in Palo Alto. There was a little memorial outside. But the really striking thing is how many people were inside shopping.

Jeff Green: And it's always that way.

Jeff Green is a retail analyst in Phoenix. He say Apple stores earn more than twice much cash per square foot than any retail chain in the world.

Green: Apple is a powerhouse.

Microsoft now has a dozen stores in the U.S., but the company's been quiet about how much money they're making.

In Silicon Valley, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.