Tech fans on America’s east coast have a new opportunity to browse Microsoft’s latest offerings, after the company opened its first ever ‘flagship’ store on New York City’s famous Fifth Avenue.

The store opening, which took place on October 26, conveniently coincided with the release of the firm’s new Surface products, including the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book, as well as the launch of Xbox One title ‘Halo One’.

The move is thought to be the latest of Microsoft’s attempts to compete with Californian rival Apple, which already owns 450 stores across the world – one of which is situated on Fifth Avenue, among the world’s most notable retail areas. Satya Nadella’s company currently has 116 bricks-and-mortar stores, all but two of which are in the US and Canada.

Competing with Apple for hardware and gadgets

With five levels, the new store is Microsoft’s largest yet by some way, covering more than 22,000 square feet. Visitors can expect to find the company’s latest gadgets and software on the ground and first floors, with the ‘Answer Desk’ – Microsoft’s ‘Genius Bar’ equivalent – on the second.

The third floor has been dedicated to the showcasing of new products from partner firm Dell and its PC gaming arm, Alienware. The top floor is taken up by a mix of staff areas and event spaces.

Present at the big opening event were Surface boss Panos Panay, as well as COO Kevin Turner and representatives of New York City – including its deputy mayor, Richard Buery and CTO, Minerva Tantoco.

Also there was Kelly Soligon, the general manager of worldwide marketing for Microsoft’s online and retail stores, who commented: “We’ve designed this store to be really inviting and very customer-focused. It’s all about customers getting hands on with the technology and having space and time to experience and play with the products.

“One of the things that we love about being the Microsoft Store and the flagship store is the ability to showcase those products immediately.”

Some have questioned why it took so long for the Redmond giant to establish a presence on such a prominent retail stage, but corporate VP of its retail and online stores, David Porter, said it was just a case of waiting for the right time.