Microsoft opening retail chain

Software giant taps Wal-Mart veteran to spearhead effort "to create a better PC and Microsoft retail purchase experience."

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With endeavors like the Xbox Live Marketplace and Zune Marketplace, Microsoft has been cutting out the retail middleman for years. However, the Xbox 360 maker's latest initiative goes a bit further, cutting the retail middleman out of the retail experience.

Microsoft could have used stores to
Microsoft could have used stores to "better articulate" the benefits of Vista.

Microsoft today announced that it will be launching its own chain of stores "to transform the PC and Microsoft buying experience." In particular, the company mentioned a desire to better articulate and demonstrate the advantages of its products. Additionally, Microsoft hopes "to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy."

To oversee the project, Microsoft has appointed David Porter to be the company's corporate vice president of retail stores. Porter has been head of Dreamworks Animation SKG's worldwide product distribution since 2007, but it's likely his prior experience that Microsoft hopes to draw on. Before joining Dreamworks, Porter spent 25 years with retail giant Wal-Mart, eventually working his way up to vice president and general merchandise manager of the chain's entertainment division.

There is no time frame for when the Microsoft stores might open, and no locations have been determined, but those will be Porter's first priorities when he begins his work on Monday.

"I am excited about helping consumers make more informed decisions about their PC and software purchases, and we'll share learnings from our stores with our existing retail and OEM partners that are critical to our success," Porter said in a statement.

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