Microsoft to open 'pop-up' stores Oct. 26, battle Apple at most locations

Will sell Surface RT tablets at the temporary holiday outlets

Microsoft's temporary, or "pop-up," stores will open Oct. 26 and will sell the Surface tablet, according to the company's website.

And in all but a few cases, Microsoft will go toe-to-toe with Apple: 29 of the 32 stores are located in the same mall or shopping center that houses an Apple retail store.

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The 32 stores in the U.S. and Canada were first announced last month. The temporary outlets will be open only during the holiday season, and are not permanent locations like the two-dozen brick-and-mortar Microsoft retail stores already in operation.

On its website, Microsoft now lists all its stores, including the pop-ups. Checks of the latter show that they will all open Oct. 26, the day Microsoft officially starts selling Windows 8 and Windows RT-powered Surface tablets.

ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley first reported the opening date.

Although Microsoft has not come out and put it plainly, it looks like the pop-ups will push the Surface tablet; each of the 32 stores' detailed pages highlight the Windows RT-based device and link to the still-terse technical information Microsoft disclosed in June when it announced its unprecedented move into mobile hardware.

Microsoft did not immediately reply to questions about the pop-ups, including confirmation that they would sell the Surface RT.

Nor has the company spelled out whether the holiday stores will offer some of the services available in its permanent locations, such as the "Answer Desk," Microsoft's version of an Apple store's "Genius Bar," or personal training sessions.

When Microsoft unveiled the Surface tablets last summer, it said it would sell the devices only through its own retail stores and on its own website. The 32 pop-up stores more than doubles the number of physical outlets where the company can demonstrate and sell the new tablet.

The pop-up stores are:

In the U.S.: Atlanta (Perimeter Mall); Aventura, Fla. (Aventura Mall); Beachwood, Ohio (Beachwood Place); Bethesda, Md. (Montgomery Mall); Braintree, Mass. (South Shore Plaza); Charlotte, NC (Southpark Mall); Columbia, Md. (Mall in Columbia); Denver (Cherry Creek Shopping Center); Durham, NC (Streets at Southpoint); Frisco, Texas (Stonebriar Centre Mall); Garden, City, NY (Roosevelt Field Mall); Glendale, Calif. (Glendale Galleria); Indianapolis (Fashion Mall at Keystone); Las Vegas (Fashion Show Mall); Miami (Dadeland Mall); Nashville (Mall at Green Hills); Natick, Mass. (Natick Collection); New York City (Time Warner Center -- The Shops at Columbus Circle); Oklahoma City (Penn Square Mall); Paramus, NJ (Westfield Garden State Plaza); Pittsburgh (Ross Park Mall); Portland, Ore. (Washington Square); San Antonio (North Star Mall); San Francisco (San Francisco Centre); St. Louis (Saint Louis Galleria); Tulsa, Okla. (Woodland Hills Mall); West Hartford, Conn. (Westfarms Mall); Woodlands, Texas (Woodlands Mall)

In Canada: Burnaby, British Columbia (Metropolis at Metrotown); Edmonton, Alberta (West Edmonton Mall); Toronto (Eaton Centre); Vancouver, BC (Oakridge Centre)

There will be more on the way, as Microsoft promised on its website. It did not reveal those future locations, however.

The biggest unanswered question about the Surface RT tablet is its price; Microsoft has not yet revealed that, although CEO Steve Ballmer has hinted at numbers between $300 and $800. Last week, when Ballmer was asked how many someone would be able to buy for $1,500, he answered, "Some."

Ballmer also promised that Microsoft would unveil pricing before the Oct. 26 ship date, but would not say how long before. It could be as late as a day earlier, as Microsoft has set a New York City launch event for Oct. 25.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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