Microsoft to Open 75 Stores Within Three Years, Turner Says

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world’s largest software maker, will open 75 stores within three years, expanding a retail effort to promote products directly to consumers, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner said.

Many of the shops will be located in the northeastern U.S., Florida and California, according to a map shown by Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft at the conference in Los Angeles. The expansion from the company’s current 11 stores will include some sites outside the U.S.

Microsoft began opening stores in 2009, some of them near Apple Inc. (AAPL) outlets, to showcase merchandise and control how it is sold. The retail expansion shows Microsoft is willing to invest a “significant amount of money” to counter Apple’s successful retail efforts, said Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Washington.

“They can’t stand back idly by and watch Apple infiltrate from a consumer perspective,” Miller said. “This is Microsoft’s idea of how they counter that.”

Existing stores probably aren’t profitable, Miller said. Microsoft may view new sites as a way to generate more interest in new mobile phone software that hasn’t been strongly promoted by sales staff at wireless carriers’ stores, he said.

Microsoft also said it will give partners tools, training and incentives totaling $5.8 billion to help them sell its products during the fiscal year that started July 1.

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