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Bargain hunters are plotting their strategies to find the best pre-holiday deals, online and off. Two options to consider: the Apple and Microsoft stores.

Each one is offering potential savings of hundreds of dollars on the latest tablets, computers and software. The one-day Apple deals start at 12:01 a.m. PST on Black Friday in the United States, but Microsoft's sale is already up and running.

Looking for Bargains

Apple's Black-Friday sale invites to customers to shop at retail stores, buy online or make a purchase from their mobile devices. Unfortunately, the company offers little specifics on the discounts, with only a set of neatly bowed EarPods plugged into an iPad as a visual clue.

Traditionally, most Apple events are pretty underwhelming with the biggest savings on Mac hardware. Still, if you feel the urge for a MacBook, gently reduced iOS device (see how Apps are increasingly swaying buying decisions), or some essential accessory, then you could save a modest amount. 

The Apple sale runs only on Friday, Nov. 29. In the United States, the sale is only from 12:01 a.m. PST to 11:59 p.m. PST. The specific times are different in other geographic areas, including Europe so it is important to check the Apple site in the country where you are located.

Learning Opportunities

Keep in mind that plenty of other stores stock Apple products, including wireless carriers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. 

Microsoft Offers

The Microsoft sale is already under way, with up to $350 off a Dell XPS 18" touchscreen all-in-one the current best offer. There are also discounts of $100 to $300 on a range of tablets and notebooks. More deals will be revealed in the run up to Black Friday.

Microsoft is also discounting headphones, a 3D Replicator 2 printer from Makerbot and select Xbox consoles and games, but not the new Xbox One.

With intense competition from Amazon, with its regularly updated juggernaut of limited time and volume offers, brick-and-mortar stores like Best Buy, Costco and Walmart with their high profile events and a host of other outlets competing for your cash, shopping around is imperative. At least comparison shopping online should keep you safe from the crowds.