While Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has been working its way into retail to push the Xbox and mobile products for years, the company is now ready to go big.

Microsoft Set To Open Flagship Store In Manhattan

First flagship location

“As our first flagship store, it will serve as the centerpiece of our Microsoft Stores experience,” said David Porter, corporate vice president for Microsoft retail stores. “This is a goal we’ve had since day one—we were only waiting for the right location. And now we have it.”

The storefront is presently a Fendi store but will be transformed into Microsoft’s flagship store and open sometime next year. When it opens, it will be mere blocks south of Apple’s glitzy shopping experience on “Upper” Fifth Avenue an area that includes the United State’s highest retail rent at over $2,700 per square foot.

“It’s an international location, and Microsoft is an international brand,” said Chase Welles, executive vice president at SCG Retail, a real estate services company.

Microsoft’s retail exposure

In the last five years, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has opened over a 100 stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. Additionally, Microsoft is planning on opening 600 mini-stores in Best Buy Co Inc (NYSE:BBY) stores across the nation. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), according to its Q3 report presently has 254 stores in the United States.

So far, Microsoft has been quite tight-lipped about what it plans to do with the store and engage customers differently than in the past. The area that the store will open enjoys an ecumenical mix of tourists and locals of over varied income ranges.

Microsoft is hoping that the new location will steal some of Apple’s thunder in the retail arena on Upper Fifth Avenue but many are questioning its product lines and subsequent ability to really turn heads with this venture. To truly succeed Microsoft really needs a head turner, an iPhone in 2007 if you will.