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Microsoft One-Ups Apple Store with Massive Nationwide Launches (MSFT)

Thousands of people joined Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Weezer to celebrate the opening of the company's store at the Natick Mall in Boston, Massachusetts.

Thousands more swarmed Microsoft's first store in Honolulu, Hawaii, which featured performances by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Neon Trees.

Now thousands are heading to Metro Detroit for Michigan's first Microsoft store -- and a live performance by Kelly Clarkson.

Clarkson was not the only special guest attending the store opening at the Somerset Collection. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also dropped by to speak to the crowd and to join the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"This is the 42nd store that Microsoft is opening," said Ballmer. "We have had about 250 million visitors, but it's only the second store that I've been involved in opening. The first store was in my new hometown of Bellevue, Washington, and the second is my original hometown of Detroit."

Before beginning, Ballmer said that there was just one question he wanted to ask: has anyone heard anything about Xbox One?

After the crowd responded loudly, Ballmer joked that he had "some work to do" in order to get a few more people on board.

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He then asked if anyone wanted an Xbox One. Not surprisingly, the crowd responded loudly to the question.

One lucky kid -- Justin Gudeman, who had already won a singed guitar from Kelly Clarkson -- was pulled to the front of the crowd and given the ultimate prize: a free, fully-paid Xbox One pre-order. He also received a Surface RT.

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While the line began to officially form at 10:00 p.m. on Thursday night, some eager fans arrived before the mall closed.

"We got here last night and stayed the night outside," Hannah Sweeney, one of the first three people in line, told Benzinga. "We got the first three bracelets to meet Kelly Clarkson!"

Microsoft handed out special meet-and-greet bracelets to the first 100 people in line. The remaining attendees were allowed to have two bracelets for the free show, which is expected to have more than 2,000 attendees.

Sara Sweeney, Hannah's sister, didn't just get a bracelet to meet Kelly Clarkson -- she also won an Xbox 360.

"I don't play games too much, but I'll definitely try this out," said Hannah.

Sara said that she would probably buy a copy of EA's (NASDAQ: EA) FIFA Soccer.

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Neither of the Sweeney sisters had the opportunity to check out Windows 8 before this morning's event, but their friend, Madison Phillipich, had already fallen in love with the new operating system.

"I think it's sweet!" said Phillipich. "My mom just got it. It's awesome!"

After the ribbon was cut and the curtain came down, dozens of Microsoft employees stood in the doorway, jumping up and down and cheering at the top of their lungs. Their enthusiasm seemed to match that of the Kelly Clarkson fans, who danced and cheered as they waited in line.

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Images by Louis Bedigian © Benzinga

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

Posted-In: Microsoft Microsoft Store Steve BallmerNews Management Success Stories Tech Best of Benzinga

 

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