Microsoft Opening Retail Stores Oct 22, 29

Microsoft plans to kick off its grand retail plan on October 22 with the opening of its first store in Scottsdale, Arizona. The company will follow up a week later with its Mission Viejo store opening in California on October 29.

The Redmond-based company is making the two store openings more enticing by offering free concerts. Ashley Tisdale will perform at the Scottsdale store launch, and Justin Bieber will perform at the Mission Viejo opening.

Microsoft modeled its stores in part on Apple's successful retail plan. The company will show off Microsoft products such as Windows 7, Xbox 360 and the Zune media player, and will also have its own version of Apple's Genius Bar to answer customer questions.

One disadvantage Microsoft will face in its stores is that all of its products are already available through an amazingly long list of retail locations. Since consumers can see Microsoft products at nearly any strip mall, electronics store or big box retailer, the company may have difficult time convincing shoppers to come to its own locations.

Microsoft will also have to deal with constant comparisons to Apple's highly successful retail track record. Even if its stores perform well, the public may see them as a failure if they don't match the success Apple has seen in the retail space, and that's going to be a hard level to match.