updated 09:40 pm EST, Thu February 12, 2009
Microsoft retail stores
Microsoft on Thursday announced the appointment of David Porter as vice president of Retail Stores, confirming earlier reports that the company is planning a foray into the realm of brick-and-mortar establishments. Porter's first task will be to determine the timing, locations and specific details of the stores. He brings experience from 25 years at Walmart where he served as the vice president and general merchandise manager of Entertainment.
The move will bring Microsoft into a new playing field to compete against Apple, although the Mac-maker finished 2008 with 251 retail locations and plans to keep expanding through 2009. Apple Stores have become a strong point of the company, accounting for 46.7 million visitors last quarter and bringing in $1.74 in revenue, averaging $7 million for each store.
Microsoft stores would provide a place to market products directly to consumers, such as the upcoming launch of Windows 7 and the company's Zune and Xbox devices. “This is an exciting time with our strong lineup of upcoming product releases including Windows 7 and new releases of Windows Live and Windows Mobile," Porter said.
Opening retail stores goes against the company's previous strategy that focused on marketing system partners and third-party stores. Porter suggests that the venture could prove beneficial for both sides. “I am excited about helping consumers make more informed decisions about their PC and software purchases, and we’ll share learnings from our stores with our existing retail and OEM partners that are critical to our success,” he said.
Microsoft has not yet announced any plans for particular locations, or if the stores will directly sell computers or provide a place for customers to demo the software.