In 2009, they're copying Apple's hugely successful retail strategy:
Microsoft Corp. said it hired a former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive to help the company open its own retail stores, a strategy shift that borrows from the playbook of rival Apple Inc.
The Redmond, Wash., company said it hired David Porter, most recently the head of world-wide product distribution at DreamWorks Animation SKG, as corporate vice president of retail stores for Microsoft.[...]
The move is a sign of the deeper role consumer-technology companies are playing in the retail business, despite the many risks of straying from their traditional businesses of making hardware and software. Apple, of Cupertino, Calif., encountered widespread skepticism when it first began opening its own retail stores in 2001.
Eight years later, though, Apple's chain of more than 200 stores around the world are widely credited with helping the company boost sales of its Mac, iPod and iPhone product lines. The Apple stores, with their eye-catching architecture, highly-trained sales staff and "genius bars" that provide technical support, gave Apple a way to showcase its products in an environment where they weren't lumped in with a gamut of other electronics items. Sony Corp. and Bose Corp. also operate their own stores.