The software giants are fighting their brutal revenue war on another front: exclusive retail outlets.

The empire Bill Gates built continues its Borg-like takeover of every industry known to man with the recent announcement of its new line of Microsoft-branded retail stores.

In an obvious competitive move to match Apple, which opened its first Apple Stores on May 19, 2001, Microsoft hired 25-year Wal-Mart veteran David Porter to operate its retail division. Porter only plans for a “small number” of stores but sees “tremendous opportunities” for Microsoft to sell its products.

“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,” said Microsoft in a statement.

Microsoft’s plan makes strategic sense in its ongoing war with Apple. However, Apple’s strategic position prior to its retail push was more supportive of the plan due to improved product lines (the slowly growing iPod craze attracted customers) and a fewer preexisting retail agreements. Best Buy, the leading technology retailer, could be upset if it begins to lose software sales to Microsoft’s shops. The risk of pissing off one of its top sales partners is clearly a lower priority than bolstering Microsoft’s own identity to the house now run by Steve Ballmer.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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