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Microsoft Targeting Apple Stores With New Retail Store Concept

ZDNet reports that Microsoft is planning to open a number of retail stores in close proximity to existing Apple Stores later this year. While the stores will reportedly be designed more to "showcase" Microsoft products and build brand awareness than to serve as retail distribution points, the move continues the aggressive attacks on Apple by Microsoft begun with its recent "Laptop Hunters" and Zune Pass commercials.

Microsoft is planning to open the first of its planned retail stores next to existing Apple stores this fall.

Kevin Turner, Microsoft's Chief Operating Officer, told partners the news during his Worldwide Partner Conference keynote on July 15. A number of attendees tweeted Turner's words immediately.

Microsoft officials announced in February that Microsoft was planning to open retail stores but have offered few details since that time as to what the stores would look like or when they'd open. I did hear from some Softies that the stores wouldn't be clones of Apple's, and that they'd be more showcases than actual retail outlets.

Microsoft's previous attempt at the retail store concept consisted of a single location opened in June 1999 in San Francisco's Sony Metreon shopping center. Hampered by its location in a tech-focused shopping center that never lived up to Sony's plans, the "microsoftSF" store closed in late 2001. Rumors of Microsoft returning to the retail store market surfaced early last year, but the company remained silent on the topic until its February announcement.