Microsoft to enter retail space soon

Microsoft Corp’s first store looks ready to open in an upscale Phoenix valley city in the next few days, as the software maker takes its first step in trying to match rival Apple Inc’s successful venture into retail.

Expectations are running high that its first store, in the Fashion Square Mall in Scottsdale, Arizona, will open next week, to coincide with the launch of Microsoft’s new Windows 7 operating system next Thursday.

Chief Executive Steve Ballmer teased reporters with an imminent opening on Friday, but also would not commit to a date. “We’ll open a couple of stores, try to improve, open a couple more stores,” Ballmer said at a public appearance in downtown Boston.

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