Move over, Apple!


Everybody knows the commercials for Apple – the ones with dorky, disheveled, glasses-wearing tech geek Microsoft PC facing off against the cool, calm, collected guy playing Apple.

The commercial usually ends with the PC giving up. But the opening of the new Microsoft store in Park Meadows Shopping Center proves the software giant still has plenty of fight.

The store opened last week with a large curtain dropped to reveal a bright, fresh-looking store with a new crop of workers waiting for the hundreds of people who arrived for the occasion, many waiting in line to get their hands on tech toys.

In the age of iPad, Microsoft didn’t take any chances, padding the store with teens by offering tickets to a show by Disney popster Demi Lovato to the first 1,000 people in line. Apple recently overtook Microsoft as the most valuable technology company in the world, with a market value of $222.1 billion, compared to Microsoft’s $219.2 billion.

The store in Lone Tree, Microsoft’s third nationwide, touts more than 500 products and 50 employees. Featured products include a 3-D TV, the popular line of Xbox gaming systems, Zune music players and, of course, lots of PCs.  It joins a mall already home to an Apple store. The other Microsoft stores are in Scottsdale and Mission Viejo, with one in San Diego opening soon. Apple has six stores in Colorado alone and more than 200 stores throughout the country.

But with the design of the Park Meadows store – the second time Microsoft has gone head to head with Apple in the same mall — Microsoft is making progress giving the geek in the commercial a very chic makeover. Giant video screens similar to IMAX technology serve as the store’s walls, depicting images that relate to nearby sections of the store.

At the store’s entrance, a living room area is dedicated to technology at home, featuring a 3-D TV — allowing us to watch that Microsoft dork on the screen become cooler by the second — and other Microsoft gadgets. Surface tables are placed throughout the store, with built-in touch screens featuring games and different software programs.

The store is organized by groupings of products, from laptops to Netbooks to desktop computers. A theater section of the store presents daily training events, from how to use the operating systems to how to create a scrapbook online. The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts can come to the store and receive a technology badge, with a Microsoft logo on it, and the store welcomes class field trips. “Fun Fridays” from 1 to 4 p.m. offer parents time to bring their children to the store for story time and crafts using Microsoft technology. Children are encouraged to play at the gaming area of the store, which offers multiple screens and different games.

“It’s important to use the product before you buy it,” spokeswoman Mika Krammer says. The store would like to start having midnight releases of new games.

The software section in the back of the store features a wall of popular produces as well as a database of more than 700 software choices. Customers can pick software in the system, pay for the product, and within five minutes, the disk and the cover are burned in a back room and ready to be taken home.

A new addition to the stores is a professional solutions section, focused on small businesses. Store buyers and staff specialize in small business technology, Krammer says.

“Most small businesses want to know they can go somewhere if there is a problem, and they want quick, knowledgeable responses,” she said.

Apple may cover a lot of ground and have catchy commercials, but Microsoft’s new store shows there’s still has a lot of life left in its geek.

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