Microsoft Talks Retail Stores, Getting on Apple's Nerves

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner provided a few details this week about his company's still mysterious plans to open retail stores. He said the software giant planned to open some retail stores "right next to Apple Stores" beginning in the fall.

Turner also relayed a funny story about Apple. The Cupertino Mac maker recently called Microsoft and demanded that the software giant stop running its "Laptop Hunter" ads on TV. The ads highlight how expensive Macs are compared to PCs, and how much more choice there is in the PC market. That's a lot of chutzpah, even for Apple: Its annoying "I'm a Mac" ads have been running for years and often include inaccurate information about Windows and PCs.

Turner said at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference this week that his plan for the retail stores was to "transform the PC and Microsoft buying experience." While it's unclear if the best way to do that is to copy Apple's own retail plan so closely that even the locations are similar, Turner says that he expects Microsoft will learn a lot from this experience and then share it with other retailers that sell Microsoft products.

"We're in the game for the long term here," he said. "And I know something about retail, and we've hired an incredible team to do an incredible job on retail."

Regarding Apple's demands about the "Laptop Hunter" ads, Turner revealed how desperate Apple is to prevent people from realizing how much more expensive Macs are than PCs. "Two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, 'Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices,'" he said. "They took like $100 off or something. It was the greatest single phone call in the history that I've ever taken in business."

Finally, Microsoft had gotten to Apple. "I did cartwheels down the hallway," Turner continued. "At first I said, 'Is this a joke? Who are you?' We're just going to keep running them and running them and running them."

Turner noted that the ads work because they're the truth. He talked about reading an ad for an electronics retailer in the newspaper this past Sunday and examining the prices for different computers. "You can get a 13.3” Macbook for $1,199 from that retailer," he said. "Guess what? \[From\] that same retailer, you can get a PC with more RAM, a bigger hard drive, and almost a three-inch bigger screen for $649. This is...the Apple Tax.

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