Microsoft confirmed on Wednesday that it is planning to open its first stores this fall, with at least some of the locations likely to be right near an Apple store.
"As we progress on our retail strategy there will be scenarios where we have stores in proximity to Apple," a representative told CNET News. "We are on track to open stores in the fall time frame."
The fall timing is not surprising. One would assume Microsoft would want to have the stores open in time for Windows 7's October 22 retail launch and for the holiday selling season.
I'm hearing that Microsoft will open a few stores this fall, with more coming in 2010.
Microsoft first announced its plan to enter the retail arena in February, when it hired David Porter, a Wal-Mart veteran.
Speaking at the Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans on Wednesday, Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told people to "stay tuned" for more news on the retail front.
"And stay tuned, because we're going to have some retail stores opened up that are opened up right next door to Apple stores this fall," he said. "Stay tuned, just stay tuned."
Turner promised partners that the company would share what it is learning with other stores.
"Every single thing we learn in those Microsoft stores that we put on the street we're going to share that openly and transparently with all of our retail partners so that they can do the exact same thing," Turner said. "And we're going to get that customer feedback directly. We're in the game for the long-term here."
Turner, himself a former Wal-Mart exec, noted he has some experience in this area. "And I know something about retail, and we've hired an incredible team to do an incredible job on retail."
The software maker has also opened an online software store that sells products directly to customers.
Last fall, Microsoft set up a "retail experience center" in Redmond. (See video below--Silverlight required, however.) However, at the time a Microsoft executive told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the company wasn't going to open its own stores.
In the beginning of the decade, Microsoft had one retail outlet--at the San Francisco Metreon mall. However, it closed that location in November 2001. It had been rumored to be eyeing a Times Square location back in 2005.