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Microsoft to open giant NY City store this month, just a few blocks from Apple’s

Microsoft is set to open a flagship store in Manhattan three weeks today.

The new store is located on Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street, just a five-minute walk from Apple’s famous glass-cube store. It’s the computer giant’s first flagship outlet in the city and its largest to date.

Visitors will be able to peruse products from Microsoft and its partners across five floors that cover just over 22,000 feet of floorspace.

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Besides interactive areas where you’ll be able to get your hands on the latest Surface tablets, Lumia phones, Xbox machines, and Windows PCs, there’ll also be a so-called Community Theater – a space where visitors can “learn how to use Microsoft’s latest and most popular products in their everyday work and lives” –  and an Answer Desk “for technical questions, troubleshooting and repairs.” While it certainly sounds a lot like Apple’s Genius Bar, Microsoft says Answer Desk staff will be happy to deal with questions about troublesome kit regardless of the make or where it was purchased.

Speaking of staff, David Porter, the company’s VP for retail and online stores, said its new sales team has been selected from the city’s “distinct and diverse five boroughs as well as surrounding areas, and speak more than 19 languages.”

Microsoft’s current retail presence in the city comprises two smaller outlets at Columbus Circle and at Staten Island Mall.

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The Redmond-based company is also gearing up to cut the ribbon on its first international flagship store in Sydney, Australia. A quarter of the size of the Manhattan store, the two-floor Aussie effort opens on November 12 and will offer all of the features mentioned above.

Porter is promising “grand opening festivities” for both stores, so if you happen to be in Manhattan at noon on October 26, or Westfield Sydney on Pitt Street Mall at noon on November 12 then you might want to drop by to see what’s happening.

Microsoft’s store announcement comes as the company is expected to unveil a bunch of new gear at a special event in New York City this week, with the new products certain to show up at the new retail locations later this month.

Retail efforts

The company opened its first brick-and-mortar store in 2009 and according to its website now operates more than 100 sites in the U.S. and Canada. However, many are small set-ups that go under Microsoft’s “Specialty Store” classification, denoting a limited selection of products.

Soon after taking the reins at Microsoft in 2014, Satya Nadella noted that expansion was on the cards as far as its retail efforts were concerned.

“The goal of our retail business is to support our consumer business,” Nadella said, adding, “As long as it makes sense for us to expand, economically, we will.”