Get ready for Microsoft retail stores

Microsoft plans to take another page from the Apple playbook and open its own chain of retail stores. According to the Associated Press, Microsoft has enlisted 25-year Walmart veteran and former DreamWorks distribution chief David Porter to head the new retail business. Porter will start work on Tuesday, and his first task will be to help determine the "timing, locations and design" of the upcoming stores.

If this all sounds familiar, it's because Microsoft already opened locations in stores from chains like Best Buy and Circuit City last year, right as it was rolling out its $300 million ad campaign. These locations were populated with "Windows Gurus"—essentially on-location support staff akin to Apple Store "geniuses."

The AP writes that Microsoft's proper retail stores will carry the company's products and PCs pre-loaded with Microsoft software. Although the article is short on details, we wouldn't be surprised to see Zune media players and Xbox 360s make appearances alongside boxed software and Windows PCs.

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