Microsoft retail experience becomes a retail reality, stores to be announced soon

Microsoft is officially wading into competitive retail with its own slew of storefronts, and the company just hired David Porter, the new VP of Retail Stores, to lead the charge when he starts on February 16th. "Defining the time frame, locations and specifics for planned Microsoft-branded retail stores will be Porter's first order of business," Microsoft said in a press release.

When Microsoft demoed its retail experience privately last month, reactions were predictably mixed: some thought it made sense, others found themselves sizing it up with the Apple Store. Microsoft has a strong brand to sell, with Windows on desktops, laptops, cells and smartphones, and the Xbox 360 is no slouch, either. Putting it all together in one store, controlling its presentation, and having a physical space to demo products to the public — such as the Surface or Sync — seems like a smart move. Though it'll be interesting to see if the company wants to directly compete with stores such as Best Buy and Gamestop, who sell Microsoft products at retail.

As for servicing the computers that come packaged with Windows, that's where Microsoft has it a little rougher than Apple, which controls all of its hardware and software, so Apple knows what's on every machine. Microsoft, if it does have a Genius Bar-like component, will probably resemble something like the Geek Squad.

Microsoft, via Maximum PC