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For a big launch, Microsoft readies tiny holiday pop-up stores

Microsoft is planning to open 34 holiday pop-up stores in North America starting October 26. If these designs are any indication, they're going to be very compact.

It's lucky the Microsoft Surface RT is small, because Microsoft's coming pop-up stores look like they're going to be very compact.

Microsoft is planning to open 34 holiday pop-up stores in the U.S. and Canada. (The just-added two, announced this week by the company, are a Chicago and Times Square New York.) They are opening on October 26, the day that Windows 8 and Microsoft's Surface RT tablets/PCs are generally available.

I guess I was envisioning temporary full-size Microsoft stores -- like two-dozen-plus permanent brick-and-mortar stores they are operating already -- when I was thinking about these pop-ups. 

But if mock-ups sent to me from a reliable source of mine who requested anonymity are any indication, the coming pop-ups are going to be tiny. They are going to be more like mall kiosks than "stores":


Here's a photo of what is supposedly the Microsoft pop-up in San Francisco -- in the San Francisco Centre at 845 Market Street -- now under construction (image from the same contact):


I asked Microsoft if someone would validate that the mock-up and photo are real. No word back so far.

Update: A company spokesperson said the first image is "an old drawing, and it's not accurate."

That said, it looks to my untrained eye like the drawing's not far off the mark. Here's another image of the pop-up store in Natick, Mass., that's under construction, courtesy of @joel1510 as sent to @manan, ZDNet blogger Manan Kakkar:


It's looking like a number of these pop-ups are nearly built, which makes sense, given that October 26 is just two weeks away.

I asked again today whether Microsoft is intending to open its holiday pop-ups at the stroke of midnight, so shoppers will be able to buy Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs and tablets at these temporary stores. A spokesperson told me that the Times Square Microsoft pop-up will be open at midnight, but other stores will be subject to hours of malls where they are located. The Times Square store is located at 1540 Broadway (between 45th and 46th streets) in New York City.

A number of us Microsoft bloggers fortunately guessed correctly that this might be the case and already booked a spot for a Windows 8 tweetup/meetup not far from the Times Square pop-up store. If you're in New York City on October 25, launch day, feel free to join us that evening. No free beer (cash bar/food); no RSVP needed. And thanks to Darren Cohen, a k a @FinsUpDNC, who has been instrumental in organizing this event.

This item first appeared on ZDNet's All About Microsoft blog under the headline "Here's what a Microsoft holiday pop-up store will look like."