Microsoft to launch retail chain

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Computer software giant Microsoft has announced plans to open its own stores, at a time when many other retailers are struggling in the economic downturn.

The company plans to sell computers installed with Microsoft software and other products, Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner said.

The stores will also promote new operating system Windows 7 and updates of Windows Live and Windows Mobile.

Ex-Wal-Mart executive David Porter will head the new retail division.

The company's rival Apple already has high-profile stores located around the world.

'Tremendous opportunities'

"This is an exciting time with our strong line-up of upcoming product releases," Mr Turner said in a statement.

"There are tremendous opportunities ahead to create a world-class shopping experience for our customers."

Mr Porter, corporate vice-president of retail stores, will devise a strategy outlining when the stores would be launched and where they would be located.

The decision comes after Microsoft launched a $300 million (£207m) advertising campaign last autumn in a bid to revive its Windows Vista operating system, which was widely criticized for being too slow.

In January the company cut 1,400 jobs and said it would axe 3,600 more workers over the next 18 months.

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