SEATTLE Microsoft Corp announced plans Thursday to open its own chain of branded stores as it looks to catch up with rival Apple Inc's successful move into retailing.
The world's largest software company, which also makes the Xbox video game console and the Zune digital music player, did not say how many stores it was looking to open, or when, or which of its products would be on sale.
That is to be decided by David Porter, a former DreamWorks Animation executive, which Microsoft named as its new vice president of retail stores.
Turner, a former Wal-Mart Stores Inc manager, will report to Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner.
The long-rumored move to open stores comes as consumer spending is under severe pressure due to the recession, which has already pushed electronics chain Circuit City into bankruptcy. A similar attempt by computer maker Gateway to open its own stores some years ago was not successful.
Microsoft, bruised by the poor reception of its latest Vista operating system, is facing increased competition from Apple, which is eating into the personal computer market and dominates the personal digital music player market with its iPod line.
Apple's stylish stores, now numbering more than 200 worldwide, have been crucial in attracting customers in recent years.
(Reporting by Bill Rigby; editing by Carol Bishopric, Bernard Orr)