Microsoft is planning to open the first of its planned retail stores next to existing Apple stores this fall.
Kevin Turner, Microsoft's Chief Operating Officer, told partners the news during his Worldwide Partner Conference keynote on July 15. A number of attendees tweeted Turner's words immediately.
Microsoft officials announced in February that Microsoft was planning to open retail stores but have offered few details since that time as to what the stores would look like or when they'd open. I did hear from some Softies that the stores wouldn't be clones of Apple's, and that they'd be more showcases than actual retail outlets.
Turner told Partner show attendees that the knowledge Microsoft gained from running the stores would be "shared with partners."
According to partners attending the conference, Turner said Microsoft wouldn't be imitating Apple; it would be innovating with the new stores. Earlier this year, Microsoft officials said the stores would be more about building Microsoft's consumer brand than distribution.
Microsoft hired David Porter, a former Dreamworks Animation and Wal-mart exec, as Corporate Vice President of Retail Stores earlier this year.
Microsoft is set to make Windows 7 generally available on October 22. No word so far if the Microsoft retail stores will open around that same date. I've asked Microsoft for more information -- where the stores will be located, how many will open this fall, etc. No response so far.
Update: A Microsoft spokesperson provided the following statement, for what it's worth:
"As we progress on our retail strategy there will be scenarios where we have stores in proximity to Apple. We are on track to open stores in the Fall timeframe.
"Beyond that we have no additional details to share."