Apple may not be Microsoft's biggest concern in retail

Microsoft's expansion into the retail arena may be a more difficult endevour than Apple faced when it opened its own retails stores back in 2001, according to Nick Wingfield of The Wall Street Journal.

This isn't due to lack of products or store locations, but the potential for Microsoft's stores to hinder relationships with its existing hardware and retail partners.

Wingfield told the Journal, "While Apple had fewer potential business conflicts because it had such weak support from retailers when it opened its first store in 2001, Microsoft depends on existing partners in the retail business that could be threatened by the company's expansion into their turf."

Steven Baker, an analyst with NPD Group, believes that Microsoft has nothing to be concerned about. "Everybody is in everybody's space" he told the Journal. However, Microsoft appear to be playing it safe, preparing hardware and retail partners by being vocal in the media on their plans to enter the retail arena.

It's clear that Microsoft's aim in opening retail stores is to make a large dent in Apple's growing market share, even going so far as to hire ex-Apple Store staff and former Apple retail executive, George Blankenship, to take Apple head-on.

Apple is preparing for the onslaught, having started renovations on a number of existing Apple stores, and commissioning an advertising campaign that aims to mock the upgrade process from Windows XP to Windows 7, Microsoft's latest and soon to be released operating system.

Microsoft plans to open its first retail store in Scottsdale, Arizona around the launch date of Windows 7 on October 22, 2009.

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