California, Arizona will get first Microsoft Stores

The first of Microsoft's planned retail stores will be opening in Scottsdale, Arizona and Missioin Viejo, California, according to reports today.

Images of Microsoft's potential in-store design were leaked late last week and later confirmed by Microsoft to be real, though they were dismissed as "early prototypes" of plans for their retail stores.

The slides, part of a presentation from earlier in July, were even further dismissed by Apple fans as "blatant mimicry" of Apple Stores, complete with a "Guru Bar" or "Windows Bar" instead of Apple's "Genius Bar."

One of the slides, which was assembled by New York design firm Lippincott addressed the "Competitive Benchmarks" set by Apple with its retail stores, calling them "Places 'to be seen,' spots where consumers feel inspired and hip. More than a store, the Apple Store flagships have become social spots and city landmarks."

While the slides do not represent the actual design plans of Microsoft's forthcoming retail stores, they certainly do very little to hide their inspiration.

The new Microsoft stores are expected to open in the fall, coinciding with the release of Windows 7.

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