To improve the experience of buying Windows PCs as well as getting the machines up and running, Microsoft appears to be taking a page or two from Apple’s playbook, reports CNET. Microsoft is setting up store-within-a-store locations at major retailers like Circuit City and Best Buy, a concept that Apple employed at both Best Buy and CompUSA. Microsoft is also hiring between 100 and 200 "Windows Gurus"–Microsoft employees that will be positioned at retail stores to help customers learn more about the operating system. Like Apple’s Geniuses, Windows Gurus won’t be paid commissions. Instead, they will be compensated in large part based on customer satisfaction. The software maker also has a new engineering team that is working with computer makers to reduce the time it takes Windows PCs to boot, wake from sleep, and initially get up and running out of the box. Systems that have gone through Microsoft’s new process will start showing up this fall from all the major computer makers and will be highlighted on Microsoft’s web site. The company has also revamped its site. Microsoft’s efforts come at a critical time for the software maker, as it has seen its still-dominant market share slip amid strong gains by Apple. At the same time, the ever increasing power of web applications has increased the threat from Linux-based machines…

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