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Out with handbags, in with Surface Books. Noon today marked the debut of Microsoft's first flagship store in the heart of Fifth Avenue, where Fendi stood just under a year ago. It's the tech retailer's largest store yet at 22,369 square feet across five floors, and it's every bit the shiny beacon to the latest in computers and video games that you'd expect from a store opening a few blocks south of a particular glass cube.
The first floor (seen above) is the home for everything new, including those Surface Book tablets that just hit the market today. Front tables are stocked with them, waiting for customers to pick them up and play, and they're flanked by 50 foot-long video walls (there's also the 30-foot-high video tower at the back of the sale space). If you make a hard right as you enter, you'll find an 84-inch screen currently set up with Rock Band ready for you to show off your skills to passersby.
Past the Answer Desk in the back — where Apple users are welcome to get Office installed on Macs or Outlook on iPhones — is a giant Surface Hub touchscreen tucked behind the elevator for customers to play with while waiting for a ride to the second floor. Take the elevator (or the frosted steps that wrap around it) to find even more opportunities to play: Two 55-inch TVs are hooked up to the newest Xbox games, and surrounded with all the merchandise that goes with it (think Minecraft stuffed animals).
The second floor is also where customers can find two community theaters, where Microsoft plans to host up to 70 hours of free programming per week. With one side set up with tables and Surface tablets and the other with cushy stools that both face giant paneled video screens, customers can expect to find both public events and those for non-profit communities; just ask about what's going on at the other Answer Desk right in front of this area.
Upwards, you'll find a floor dedicated to the "Dell Experience" and another for special events — but you might be distracted by the Culture Wall that's facing the street from about the third level before you get there. That's where you'll see two stories' worth of artwork (read: not commercial advertisements) projected out onto Fifth Avenue. The Microsoft logo will slide down just above the entryway while the Culture Wall is active; at night, that logo will move back up on top of it.
The ribbons have been cut and the facade has been removed, and you probably missed your chance to score tickets to that free Pitbull concert in Rockefeller Center tonight. But you haven't missed out on all of the grand opening fun: The midnight launch for Halo 5 kicks off at 9pm tonight (see more details here), and New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and running back Chris Ivory will be greeting customers tomorrow to celebrate the launch of Surface Pro 4.