Today, I went to the Stanford Shopping Center with a good friend. I had only been there a few times before — specifically, to pick up running gear from the Nike Running Store — but today, I got a chance to walk the entire mall.

One of the first things you see when you make your way through the center is a huge white building made of squares. It’s the Microsoft Store, and it’s hard to miss. A big illuminated Microsoft logo is strategically placed over the door. The outside of the store looks a lot like another company’s store that we all know and love.

Upon stepping inside, you’re immediately greeted with new Microsoft Surface tablets. Store employees walk around with Surface t-shirts and weird thing-a-ma-bobs around their necks. Big, illuminated screens light up in the back of the store with the latest sports Xbox games.

Now if you knew absolutely nothing about Apple or Microsoft prior to stepping into the store, you’d probably think Microsoft’s store is pretty cool. It’s innovative, trendy and the place to be.

But it’s a rip-off. A blatant one, at that.

“It looks just like the Apple Store,” my friend said.

He’s right.

After browsing through the latest Xbox 360 units, we were making our way out of the store when a lady, mid-aged and rushed, brought a Thunderbolt Display box into the store. Out of breath, she asked the store employee a question — and the employee laughed her off.

“The Apple Store is next door,” he said.

Embarrassed, she ran out of the store, casually laughing off her silly mistake.

Apple has had tremendous success with most of their products recently — the iPad, iPhone 5 and iPod Touch are all best-in-category. While Microsoft’s marketing seems to change by the day, Apple stays the course and lets the products sell themselves.

No matter how much Microsoft tries to imitate Apple and its’ offerings, it cannot replace the quality of the product offering. Who uses a PC anymore? Would anyone really pick the Surface over the iPad?

Apple is trusted — they make high-quality products and use marketing to amplify what they offer. Microsoft, on the other hand, uses marketing to position their products as high-quality offerings — the average Surface tablet as one example. While it may work on the non-tech oriented market, Microsoft looks foolish to anyone who knows even the slightest thing about hardware.

Don’t buy marketing. Buy quality. Take the time you need to research and get informed before you even think about a purchase.