So you want to be a retailer? Microsoft gets in the game

Come fall, Microsoft plans to open stores, right next door to Apple's. It's like an "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" commercial come to life.

I don't know what Microsoft's odds of success are. I was skeptical of Apple's stores, but it defied some pretty steep odds. Apple stores today are thriving enterprises.

Apple's plan from the beginning went against common sense. Pick high traffic, highly visible, high-rent locations. Go with pricey, incredibly slick designs like glass staircases and clear cube entryways. And include free services such as classes with purchase and a Genius Bar, a name some find a tad elitist. But then, some find the use of the term "a tad" elitist too.

Mostly, I found Apple's stated goal of using retail locations to increase household penetration of Macs to be overly optimistic. Macs were adored by many but for years, owned by just around 5% of the U.S. population. Opening stores (and launching that ill-fated "switch" campaign) seemed a difficult path to increasing market share.