Microsoft to Launch Retail Stores

As you may have read already today, Microsoft intends to launch retail stores which strikes me as a serious challenge.  Unlike Apple which has had great success with their retail strategy, Microsoft relies far too much on their external ecosystem to tell their whole story.

Microsoft has a solid story around connected entertainment with Xbox, Zune and MCE and Apple still regards this area as a hobby with AppleTV.  This is a small piece of what they will most likely (my guess) be looking to sell though and I wonder how highlighted OEM partners will be selected to display on the PC side.  Given the existing channels in which Microsoft products are sold, I’m wondering whether a store in a store concept might not actually be a better play here.

Microsoft will definitely have a lot to contend with on the consumer experience side as their system is still quite a bit more complex to setup and manage.  It should be an interesting year for retail …. Apple is apparently also retooling their stores to offer more a differentiated experience via the Mac solution. 

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