Sorry Scottsdale, the prize for the first Microsoft store location to open its doors goes to...the Internet! Moving beyond their own branded products, Microsoft has started hawking other companies' Windows-friendly wares online, from laptops to Photoshop to PC accessories.
This is effectively an extension of their brick-and-mortar retail push (or is it the other way around?) which will also include third-party hardware, software and accessories compatible with Windows, and particularly, Windows 7. The first round is heavy on laptop and netbooks, with Dell, Sony, Lenovo, HP and Acer portables all making appearances — basically, a similar lineup to what you'd see at any Best Buy.
This makes a lot of sense for Microsoft, who's watched Apple do pretty, pretty well with a broad online store, but who couldn't cash in on a similar concept without their own hardware to anchor one on. It's the same direction they're taking with Windows Phone: In lieu of Microsoft hardware, we're seeing closer partnerships with third parties, and blanket branding and marketing. In other words, to the customer, it may as well be Microsoft hardware. [Beyond Binary]