Microsoft to Aggressively Challenge Apple in Retail Space

Only a few hours after headlines appeared that Apple has effectively emerged as the fastest growing retailer in the US (as measured by sales growth during the first quarter of 2011), Microsoft stepped in to claim some of the spotlight from its longtime rival.

On Wednesday, Microsoft announced plans to more aggressively challenge Apple’s massive retail presence with 75 additional Microsoft retail stores.

Revealed at WPC 2011 yesterday, Microsoft says the new stores will open over the next two to three years.

Ironically, although Apple is widely thought of as a modern mobile pioneer in the retail space, it was Microsoft – not Apple – that opened its first retail store in 1999, two years before Apple’s foray into retail.

Analyst expectations, however, suggest that the Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft will  closely model its retail strategy after the aggressive steps taken by Apple some ten years ago – a decision that helped drive the company’s market capitalization well past the $300 billion mark.

So far, Microsoft hasn’t revealed any detailed information regarding its expansive refreshed retail strategy – at least not beyond raising the curtain on a map of the US highlighting the new geographic locations in which the forthcoming stores will be found.