Leaked Microsoft Retail Docs Reveal Answers Bar/Guru Bar/Windows Bar

Microsoft is planning on answering Apple's enormously successful Genius Bar with one of three concepts, the Answers Bar, the Guru Bar, or the Windows Bar, according to a PowerPoint presentation leaked to Gizmodo Friday. The site published the full presentation, which Microsoft spokespersons commented weren't necessarily final decisions.

"As a part of our process in briefing creative agencies, we shared some early prototypes and concepts of our retail store plans. No final decisions have been made. As we previously announced, we are on track to open retail stores this Fall."

Microsoft has long been looking for the best way to combat Apple's fleet of Apple Stores, and so far the company has indicated it will have locations next or close to an Apple Store. If the concepts outlined in the leaked PowerPoint presentation are used, the company will also borrow much of the stores' layout from Apple.

For instance, there will be demonstration tables in the middle of the store, and different sections separated out to promote "Windows 7," "PCTV" (Windows Media Center), and "Windows Mobile and Netbooks."

Apple is not alone in being borrowed from -- and it's important to remember that Apple borrowed from The Gap for its own Apple Stores, including hiring key Gap executives to assist with its store design and implementation -- with the documents saying the company looked to Nike, Nokia, Sony, Apple and AT&T for inspiration on what to do.

Non-Apple elements include a wraparound video screen around the entire store pushing Microsoft marketing messages, Xbox-interface kiosks, and the ability to pay to have your birthday party at a Microsoft Store.

You can see all 54 slides in the presentation at Gizmodo, and a thanks to Loop Insight for the heads up on the plans to have Windows Gurus.