Microsoft has hired a former Wal-Mart exec to help the company open a chain of retail stores—a new strategy in its battle with Apple. The move is the latest sign of upheaval at Redmond, reports the Financial Times, and represents a change in approach. "To open their own stores is a big about-face," said one analyst, who thought Microsoft would "definitely incur some ill will" from retailers that stock its products.
Microsoft said the new stores would showcase Windows 7, the new operating system that will succeed the widely reviled Vista, as well as mobile software and the Xbox 360 gaming console. But there's no guarantee the stores would help revitalize Microsoft's unfashionable image. "They may end up being more like Sony stores," said an industry watcher, "which promote the products but sell very little." No word yet on when or where they will open.