Microsoft , in an effort to keep up with the global retail market, has recently announced that they plan to open a retail chain of stores in a number of cities worldwide and has acquired the services of former Wal-Mart executive, David Porter as Corporate Vice President of retail, to head this operation. This follows Microsoft’s announcement that they were planning to open stores earlier this year in February .Porter will be reporting to COO Kevin Turner who also happens to be a former Wal-Mart employee and part of his job will be deciding  whether Microsoft needs to sell the computers or simply showcase its features and functionality. Though Microsoft has not confirmed that they will launch a store in Australia, reports have not been denied either. Microsoft announced last year in November that all consumer-related products could be purchased directly online in the US at Microsoftstore.com.

Following a mock store that opened in Redmond, where it was announced that they had no plans to open a line of retail outlets, Microsoft opened its first US retail store in October 2009. Specific details with regard to the retail outlets are not quite clear at this point. According to Microsoft, the stores could showcase personal desktops, systems and cell phones that run on the windows operating system and windows mobile software as well as the popular X-Box gaming console. The plan is to start off with a few stores initially and in a move to increase sales, Microsoft will be placing stores nearby and even next door to rival Apple stores and will utilize the new retail outlets to promote sales of Microsoft Windows  Mobile, Windows 7 and Windows Live among others. Some suggest that showcasing the X-Box and Zunes- Windows range of music players which did not do well globally and in the Australian market might help improve sales.

Onlookers in the industry are skeptical. The high risk as well as the competition with industry giant Apple, loom large. Critics advise that Microsoft will need to make its presence felt if they want to rise above the competition, as many brands in this sector have already made a name for themselves in the retail market. In 1999, Microsoft had opened its first retail outlet – MicrosoftSF, which shut two down in November 2001, two years after it was launched .The store showcased the brands extensive range of products but did not sell.

A spokesperson for Microsoft said that this move was part of a strategy to better connect with customers in the retail environment. Adding that the focus would be demonstrating value for what their consumers spend and simplifying the purchase experience for them. in a statement issued, David Porter, Corporate Vice President said that he was excited about aiding customers in making more informed decisions when it came to purchasing their products; Adding that there were tremendous opportunities for Microsoft to give its customers a world class shopping experience .Microsoft in a statement said that they wanted to learn firsthand about what consumers want and how they buy their products.