Financial Times reports that Microsoft is planning to open its own chain of retail establishments to compete with Apple stores. They hired a former Wal-mart executive to oversee the operation, so they have someone that knows retail.
This seems like a bizarre idea to me, particularly given the current retail picture, although the article doesn't give the projected time-frame. Unlike Apple, Microsoft doesn't have a line of Microsoft-branded PCs and peripherals. Why would people go to a software store that just carries Microsoft products? It's not like you can't get them at other software stores. Unless they are planning to offer major discounts on their software in order to entice buyers, I'm not sure how well this will work out. It sounds like they are going to spend a huge amount of money mainly to promote brand awareness, for a brand most people use not because they particularly like it, but because it dominates the market.