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Stepping inside Microsoft's retail stores

People wait in line to get into Microsoft's first store at the Scottsdale Fashion Square on October 22, 2009 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

TEXT OF STORY

BILL RADKE: Microsoft is opening its fifth -- and biggest -- retail store right across from the Apple store at the Mall of America in Minnesota. This is Microsoft's boldest attempt to compete with Apple, which has more than 300 stores around the world -- not to mention a lot of products you can hold.

Marketplace's Alisa Roth takes a look at Microsoft's year-old move into retail.


ALISA ROTH: The Microsoft stores borrow heavily from the competition. Apple has a Genius Bar. Microsoft has the Answer Desk. The stores also have personal shoppers, classes and a clean, modern look.

Just like Apple.

MATT ROSOFF: I think they realize the Apple store is a great marketing tool for Apple products.

Matt Rosoff is an analyst with a company dedicating to tracking Microsoft.

ROSOFF: Microsoft is not just about Windows and Office and e-mail at work. That there are consumer products that are actually fun and interesting to play with.

Things like the Xbox. The stores also sell sleek laptops that run the latest Microsoft software. And soon, Microsoft's answer to the iPhone.

Microsoft's latest foray into consumer products comes next week -- when it introduces its new mobile phone platform.

I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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