Microsoft is beginning to staff up their upcoming retail store chain using freshly poached Apple Store managers and employees. Using "significant raises" and in some cases, moving expenses as the carrot, Apple Store managers are hunted and then asked to contact their (now former) top Apple Store salespeople and offer them similar incentives to switch from Mac to PC.

Employees, of course, are not the only thing Microsoft is taking from the Apple Store experienced. Having hired Apple's former retail location scout, George Blankenship, their plan is to open up right next door to Apple Stores everywhere.

Though they still, stupefyingly, don't seem interested in actually selling much of anything (they're focusing on consumer experience), along with the shrink-wrap copies of Windows 7 and Office, Zune HD and XBox 360 that Microsoft manufactures themselves, they'll be showing off their hardware partners' wares with PC, PCTV, and Smartphone walls, along with Learn, Connect, and Info tables, and "Guru" bars modeled after... you guessed it...

The strategy is certainly sound, but we're still not sure that a company with a split software/hardware model will find the same formulae brings the same success.

[The Loop via Ars Technica]