Microsoft is planning to launch a number of new Microsoft-branded retail stores, according to a company press release issued late in the day on February 12.
The press release announced the appointment of David Porter, a new Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Retail Stores. Formerly with Dreamworks Animation and Wal-mart, Porter starts his new job at Microsoft on February 16.
There's no word so far on when or where Microsoft is planning to launch the first of its new retail outlets. But the company is planning to use them to showcase Windows 7, Windows Mobile and Windows Live. According to the press release:
"Defining the time frame, locations and specifics for planned Microsoft-branded retail stores will be Porter’s first order of business. The purpose of opening these stores is to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy."
I've been very vocal in complaining about the dwindling number of retail stores where users can evaluate Windows PCs from different vendors, side-by-side. But I wasn't thinking Microsoft would throw its hat into the ring again (after a quick and short attempt back in 2001 with a single Microsoft retail store in the Sony Metreon mall in San Francisco). I don't know what I was expecting -- a group of PC makers banding together to create a chain of multivendor PC retail outlets?
I have to admit I'm doubtful Microsoft is going to be able to pull off anything as sleek and hip as Apple has with its retail stores. And launching stores in major retail areas is an expensive proposition. But I'll try and keep an open mind. Who knows: Maybe the Redmondians will find a way to one-up the Apple store, minus the attitude....
What do you think Porter and his band should -- and shouldn't -- do with the new Microsoft retail stores on tap? What would make you give a Microsoft store a try?