By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

In addition to launching its latest operating system, Windows 7, Microsoft recently opened its first bricks-and-mortar retail store in Scottsdale, AZ. In a scene reminiscent of the iPhone launch, legions of Microsoft fans flooded the software giant’s first retail store — impatiently waiting to check out the Zune, Microsoft Surface, Windows 7 and other Microsoft products.

Though Microsoft touts the new bricks-and-mortar store to be “uniquely Microsoft,” there are several striking parallels to Apple’s retail outlets. Consider the “new” Microsoft Answers Bar, where customers can go for technical support. It sounds eerily similar to Apple’s Genius Bar. Or to attract music-aficionados, Microsoft brought in Ashley Tisdale. Didn’t Apple bring in K.T. Tunstill for their Apple preview?

Right now the score is 270 to 1 — Apple in the lead. However, the new Microsoft retail store will be a great way for the software company to showcase it’s tech savvy. With such advanced products as the Microsoft Surface, consumers will have the opportunity to experience the brand in a very real, tangible way.

Apple’s success is partly due to this hands-on approach. With a similar strategy, will Microsoft be able to replicate Apple’s success in the retail market?

Image by barunpatro from Stock.Xchng