Money Matters - Simplified

Microsoft emulates Apple, goes retail

San Francisco, February 13: While many large electronics retailers might have fallen on hard times amidst the economic downturn, the Software giant Microsoft Corp. added yet another feather in its cap.

It finally announced its entry into the retail sector yesterday, thus putting an end to the long-rumored strategy.

Microsoft hired former DreamWorks Animation and Wal-mart executive David Porter to oversee the long list of upcoming retail stores. The 25-year veteran, who has been designated as the corporate vice president of retail stores for Microsoft will bring the desired changes in the PC-buying experience.

The priority for Mr. Porter will be to choose the appropriate locations, time-frame and specifics for opening of Microsoft stores. Mr. Porter will join Microsoft on February 16 and will report to the company’s Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner.

While commenting on the appointment, Turner said, “I am delighted to welcome David to Microsoft. This is an exciting time with our strong lineup of upcoming product releases including Windows 7 and new releases of Windows Live and Windows Mobile. David's unique and diverse background, coupled with his deep retail roots and distribution understanding, will be an invaluable asset in this long-term effort.”

The world’s largest software company also makes the Xbox video game console and the Zune digital music player.

Through its recent initiative, the company not only follows its rival Apple Inc. by deciding to open its own corporate-branded retail outlets, but also is firm to take the competition head-on. Microsoft plans to do what other company giants including Dell, Sony and Palm failed to achieve.

The company had no information on what products the stores would sell or how many stores will be opened. However, the company plans for a small number of stores, initially.

For long, Microsoft Inc. has been fiddling with the idea of taking a plunge into the retail sector. It had been testing various retail concepts in its 20,000 square-foot warehouse in the suburbs of Seattle to increase the sale of its Microsoft products.

Through its recent move, the company hopes to bring a big boost in its sales. Mr. Porter felt there was a plethora of opportunities for Microsoft to create a “world-class shopping experience” for the company's customers. Backed by 27 years of retail experience, Mr. Porter will work “to create a better PC and Microsoft retail purchase experience for consumers worldwide through the development and opening of the company’s own retail stores.”

Porter last stint was with Dreamworks Animation where he was the head of worldwide product distribution. Before joining Dreamworks, he worked for 25 years with Wal-Mart Stores.

“The purpose of opening these stores is to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy,” Microsoft official said in a statement.

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner, in a press statement, said, “This is an exciting time with our strong lineup of upcoming product releases including Windows 7 and new releases of Windows Live and Windows Mobile. We're working hard to transform the PC and Microsoft buying experience at retail by improving the articulation and demonstration of the Microsoft innovation and value proposition so that it's clear, simple and straightforward for consumers everywhere.”

“Retail will help Microsoft in telling a broader story it wants to get across about products from Windows Live to Windows Mobile,” Matt Rosoff, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, stated.