Microsoft is considering opening its own retail stores in the UK in a move that would mimic Apple's distribution model and bring Microsoft's UK operations in line with its US counterpart.
The company is reportedly aiming to open its first European stores in 2013 and is in talks with UK landlords for potential premises, according to a report in the Financial Times on Monday which cited "one person familiar with the matter".
London would likely be a venue for a Microsoft retail store, putting it in direct competition with Apple's retail operations in the city, which have been in place since it opened its first store on Regent Street in 2004.
The decision to open physical retail locations in the UK would mirror the company's shops in the US, and could also sell devices made by third-parties that use its Windows or Windows Phone software - a marked difference to Apple's approach.
However, crucially, it will give Microsoft a platform to promote its own hardware, most notably its recently released Microsoft Surface tablet and upcoming Surface Pro device.
The suggested timeframe for the opening of its first shops also tallies with a separate report in June which indicated that Microsoft could open a UK shop by March next year.