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Microsoft has set up a temporary hut to build buzz for its new store at University Village in Seattle

Crowds flocked to the Apple store at University Village in Seattle on Saturday afternoon, enticed by the possibility of picking up a new iPhone 4S. But a few steps away, Microsoft was doing a little guerilla marketing of its own.

The company has set up a temporary hut within spitting distance of the Apple store. It is not really a store, since nothing is for sale.

Shannon Ross, left, and Flora Oh in the Microsoft hut at University Village

But you can play games on a Kinect, dancing, hitting virtual volleyballs or taking penalty shots on an animated goalkeeper.

The goal of the hut is to build buzz for next week’s grand opening of the Microsoft store– a huge bash which will feature appearances by baseball legend Edgar Martinez and Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller on Thursday, a performances by The Black Keys on Friday and a concert by OneRepublic on Saturday.

It is a smart marketing tactic by Microsoft, especially since plenty of geeks are hanging around that area given the recent launch of the iPhone 4S.

I certainly got sucked in.

GeekWire's John Cook playing Kinect soccer at Seattle's University Village

On a visit today, I busted out my soccer skills on Kinect while my brother got his iPhone fixed at the Apple store. (Anything is better than shopping, right?)

Flora Oh, one of the marketing staffers in the hut, told me that they opened October 8th and traffic has been pretty steady on the weekends.

One of Seattle’s most popular shopping destinations, the opening of the Microsoft store will be closely watched in part due to its close proximity to the Apple store. It’s almost as if the stores are facing off against one another, with a parking lot separating the two.

(Maybe one day there will be a Jets-Sharks rumble in the lot).

That could happen next week. After all, the parking lot between the two stores is being turned into a concert venue with The Black Keys set to take the stage Friday night at 7 p.m. and OneRepublic on tap for Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

What will Apple store employees think when they hear The Black Keys let songs like this rip?

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