Microsoft aims to emulate Apple's distinctive, successful retail chain with a store line of its own.
The focus of the stores is primarily "improving the PC-buying experience," but a prototypical concept store at the company headquarters also features Xbox 360 hardware. Microsoft built the concept store
to give ideas to third-party retailers, however, and not to reflect the new stores, according to an AP report.
Alongside a new advertising push to address complaints about the Windows Vista operating system, Microsoft also sent 144 of its own employees to various electronics stores to help customers -- emphasizing its concern over how PC hardware and software is sold.
Starting Tuesday, Wal-Mart veteran David Porter will head up the new initiative, using his 25 years of experience at both Wal-Mart and as head of worldwide product distribution at DreamWorks Animation.
No timeline has been given for the opening of the new stores and it is unclear whether they would open outside of the United States.