Microsoft Launches Retail Stores To Save Windows

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Scott Olson / Getty

Microsoft aims to open its own retail outlets.

To cut down on the numbers of stores without Windows in the U.S., Microsoft (MSFT) is launching its own retail outlets. Given the size of its customer base, it would seem to be like going after an elephant with a BB gun.

At first glance, the shops would seem to be a good place to sell the Xbox Zune, and handsets that operate on the Windows mobile OS. (See pictures of Bill Gates: The Early Years.)

None of those things is a good enough reason to rent dozens of retail locations in big cities and hire staff to demonstrate products. Getting the launch of Windows 7, which is the financial future of the company, done right is a perfect reason to open as many stores to demonstrate the new software as is possible. It allows Redmond the chance to put the new Windows in front of people in a controlled environment with biased experts taking customers through features.

The current version of Windows, Vista, has been received so poorly that many businesses and consumers have not upgraded from Windows XP. Now Microsoft faces the challenge of getting the same groups to spend money on new software during a downturn.

The world's largest software company is faced with doing whatever it can to make Windows 7 a success, even if it has to open a store in every mall in America.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Read a TIME cover story on Microsoft.

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