Hoping to duplicate Apple's success, Micro-soft continues to open retail stores in select locations, including its first in Florida.
The Microsoft Store opens at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Florida Mall in Orlando, steps away from the shopping center's Apple Store.
The store sells Windows 7 PCs, Windows Phones, Kinect for Xbox 360, Office 2010 and other Microsoft products. Customers can attend tech training in the store's theater space and seek help at the Answer Desk, Microsoft's version of Apple's Genius Bar.
The Orlando store, at 8001 S Orange Blossom Trail, marks Microsoft's 22nd location nationwide. Nine others are in the works, including in Boston and Cincinnati. The stores are sleek and airy with hardwood floors, work stations and friendly employees in bright-colored shirts.
As part of the opening day festivities, Microsoft will have a ribbon-cutting at 9:30 a.m., gift bag giveaways, discounts on products and an appearance by Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, who will play Kinect with customers at 6 p.m. The first 200 shoppers will receive wristbands to a free concert and meet-and-greet with Flo Rida starting at 2 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot near Macy's. The next 1,200 in line will receive concert wristbands.
There are no immediate plans to bring a Microsoft Store to the Tampa Bay area. Apple has two local stores — at International Plaza and at Westfield Brandon. A ranking by RetailSails shows that Apple Stores, which enjoy a cultlike following, generate more sales per square foot than any other top U.S. retailer.
Microsoft typically hosts a free concert for store openings to attract interest and build excitement. The next opening, on Aug. 23 in Boston, includes a show by Lenny Kravitz on Aug. 25.
Susan Thurston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 225-3110.