The day is Thursday, October 22nd. You're in Scottsdale, Arizona, and you walk into a brand new store being opened by a multinational corporation that produces technology products, including popular operating systems for computers and mobile phones, music/media players, and 'cloud' email and storage services for consumers.
As you walk into the store, employees in brightly-colored t-shirts cheer and applaud. The store is spacious, with large wooden tables placed far enough apart that the opening-day crowd, standing on a hardwood floor, isn't packed into the place. At the back of the store is an "Answer Bar," where you can ask questions about the operating system on your computer.
No, Apple didn't open a new Apple Store in Scottsdale on the 22nd. Instead, this was the opening of the first Microsoft Store. As expected, the stores draw heavily on the highly successful Apple Store concept; the stores are opening near Apple Stores, the former real estate chief for Apple (George Blankenship) was hired to consult on location and placement of the stores, and Microsoft has even attempted to hire away Apple Store managers to run their retail outlets.
The personal shoppers are a blatant rip-off of Apple's Concierge concept, and Personal Training is an echo of Apple's One-to-One training. The Microsoft Store website has similarities to the pages for individual Apple Stores, down to a scrolling list of in-store classes and events (the list for the Scottsdale store is empty at this time).
It's fascinating to see that Microsoft has decided to copycat the Apple Store concept, but it remains to be seen if the execution will be as successful for Microsoft as it has been for Apple.