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Microsoft to open flagship store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue

Microsoft confirms it is planning to open its first New York City flagship store -- just blocks from Apple's flagship shop known as the Cube.

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Microsoft's store in Century City, Calif. Greg Sandoval/CNET

This Manhattanite had almost given up hope. But five years after kicking off its retail-store push, Microsoft officials confirmed Sunday that the company will create a flagship retail store in New York City.

Microsoft will open a full-size store on Fifth Avenue, officials told The Wall Street Journal. Microsoft execs did not provide a date as to when the store will open.

In August, the New York Daily News reported that Microsoft was negotiating to take control of the former Fendi store on Fifth Avenue. The Fendi store, located at 677 Fifth Avenue (near 53rd Street) is five blocks away from Apple's Fifth Avenue Store (near 58th Street).

Microsoft currently operates a kiosk, or "specialty store," in Columbus Circle in Manhattan, but still has no full-size store here. The company does have a few full-size stores in the New York area. Microsoft opened a full-size retail store in Times Square when it launched its original Surface tablets in 2012, but ended up closing it several months later.

Microsoft currently has more than 100 retail stores listed on its Microsoft Store location page, with specialty and full-size stores located in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Microsoft still hasn't opened any retail stores beyond these locations. Apple has hundreds of stores located throughout the world, with four of of its flagship stores located in Manhattan.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told Wall Street and press during the company's Q4 fiscal 2014 earnings call that he considered retail stores to be a "supporting," not a core, business for the company. Lately, much of the company's retail focus has been on working with Best Buy and Staples to create dedicated Microsoft store-within-a-store outlets.

Microsoft officially announced its retail-store launch plan back in February 2009. At that time, the company appointed David Porter (a former Dreamworks Animation and Wal-mart exec) as corporate vice president of retail stores. Microsoft's strategy has been to open its stores as close to Apple stores as possible as it expands its retail presence. Full-size Microsoft Stores sell Windows PCs, Windows Phones, Xboxes, Microsoft and third-party software, games, peripherals and more.

This story originally posted as "Microsoft confirms plans to open Fifth Avenue New York flagship store" on ZDNet.