With the launch of Windows 8, just in time for the holiday 2012 selling season, Microsoft opted to open more than 30 holiday pop-up stores. A number of these have morphed into "specialty stores." These tend to be much smaller, often times occupying little more than a kiosk in a mall. They offer a much smaller selection of "curated" Microsoft products, with a heavy focus on Surface and Windows Phone.
Despite its continued specialty-store push, Microsoft isn't giving up on third-party retailers like Best Buy and Staples as a major conduit for Windows 8 and Windows RT. Tami Reller, the Chief Financial Officer of Windows, told me earlier this week that Microsoft has plans to work with these retailers to create specific sales experience areas for tablets, touch laptops, convertibles and all-in-ones.