Microsoft’s chief operating officer (COO) surprised partners and customers during his keynote address on Day Three of the company’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles Wednesday by announcing that the software giant will open 75 more retail stores over the next two or three years.
Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) COO, told the audience that the first 11 stores that the company has opened over the past two years have been so successful, it plans to step up that effort.
In February 2009, Microsoft disclosed that it would take a tip from Apple and open a string of retail stores, but intended them to be more of a way to better understand customers than another way to contribute to the bottom line.
However, Microsoft has not left competition out of its formula. The first stores, opened in the fall of 2009, were located in Scottsdale, Arizona at Scottsdale Fashion Square and Mission Viejo, Calif. at the Shops at Mission Viejo, in close proximity to Apple (NASDAQ: APPL) stores.
Since then, Microsoft has opened another nine stores.
According to a map published on several news sites, most of the new stores targeted for the U.S. will be located in California, the Southeast, including Florida, and the Northeast. Turner also reportedly said some stores will be located outside the U.S.
In contrast, Apple opened its first Apple Store in May 2001. Since then, it has opened more than 320 more stores worldwide, according to the company’s Website.
Turner has been a champion of the retail store concept and extolled its virtues to partners two years ago gathered for Microsoft’s 2009 Worldwide Partner Conference. He also likes to tweak Apple when he gets the opportunity.
“Stay tuned, because we’re going to have some retail stores opened up that are opened up right next door to Apple stores this fall,” he told partners in 2009.
”As Kevin noted, we continue to learn from our customers so we can provide them with the best choice, value and service. We will adjust and adapt our strategy to open stores in a number of additional locations over the coming years as it makes sense,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email to InternetNews.com.
Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at %20http://www.internet.com”>Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.