Microsoft explores retail options

Feb. 13, 2009 at 8:08 AM

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. software giant Microsoft Corp. said it hired a 25-year veteran of Wal-Mart to explore options for the company to open its own retail stores.

The strategy offers "tremendous opportunities," said David Porter, who left Wal-Mart to run product distribution at DreamWorks Animation SKG before signing on at Microsoft.

The move follows the success at Apple Inc. stores, which have helped boost sales at the rival computer company, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Apple has 200 stores selling Mac computers, iPods and iPhones.

Microsoft said the purpose of the stores would be "to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy."

But the move is "going to be a big challenge for Microsoft," said retail analyst Stephen Baker at NPD Group Inc.

Some PC makers might be angered if Microsoft, which only makes the software, chooses to sell a competitor's brand, the Journal said.

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