Following Apple, Microsoft to open mini-stores in Best Buy

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Much as the Redmond giant attempted to do with its own dedicated retail locations, Microsoft will now follow Apple's lead in opening mini-stores in Best Buy retail locations across North America.

Microsoft and Best Buy announced the collaboration on Wednesday, noting that it will bring Windows-focused mini-stores to 500 Best Buy locations in the United States and more than 100 Best Buy and Future Shop locations in Canada. The stores will be between 1,500 and 2,200 square feet in size, and they will showcase devices running Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, Microsoft's Xbox products, Windows software, and Microsoft's hardware peripherals.

Microsoft will provide training for more than 1,200 Best Buy sales associates in order to help them better pitch products to customers.

For Microsoft, the move may make it better able to compete against Apple in the new computing paradigm. The company's Windows 8 platform has continued to struggle in the face of a weakening PC market and an exploding mobile device market.

Microsoft has attempted to follow Apple's lead in the past, opening its own retail stores. Those locations, though, have failed to reproduce the considerable success Apple has achieved with its physical locations.

For Best Buy, the new Windows Stores are a continuation of a trend that has seen the retailer reaching out to major electronics brands, getting them to open mini-stores within Best Buy locations in an effort to transform the retailer. Best Buy has struggled to retain relevance in the era of online shopping, and one big problem the retailer faces is "showrooming," wherein customers check out devices within Best Buy before going home to order them online.

Apple was the first company to get its own dedicated mini-stores within Best Buy, with distinctive installations showing off MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones. Samsung has followed suit recently, opening 1,400 mini-stores over the past few months.