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Microsoft opens first flagship store in New York, just down the street from Apple

Six years in the planning, Microsoft finally throws open the doors to its first flagship store in NY City on Monday. The lavishly designed Fifth Avenue premises features three floors of retail space and is just a few blocks from Apple’s famous glass-cube store.

The new outlet, which opens for business at midday, allows visitors to get their hands on a variety of products from Microsoft and its partners; and yes, that of course includes the new Surface Pro 4 tablet as well as Microsoft’s much-hyped laptop-tablet combo, the Surface Book.

Anyone with a tech query can head to the store’s Answer Desk, a Genraius Bar-like service “for technical questions, troubleshooting and repairs.” However, in contrast to the service offered by Apple’s team, Microsoft’s experts will happily help with questions about any PC or mobile device, regardless of the maker or where it was bought.

Other store features include immersive video walls and two so-called Community Theaters offering event space for educational programs as well as sessions for learning more about Microsoft’s latest products.

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The Redmond-based company launched its brick-and-mortal retail business six years ago and now has more than 100 stores in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Puerto Rico, but none of these compare to the grandness of its new premises in the heart of Manhattan. In fact, many of the outlets are much smaller sites – so-called “Specialty Stores” – offering a limited selection of products.

The success of Apple’s global retail operation is impossible to ignore, and with Microsoft boss Satya Nadella last year noting that retail expansion was an area of interest for his own company, we could well see more stores along the lines of its NY City effort springing up around the world over time.