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Microsoft allays fears of direct retail assault

Software vendor assures partners there are no plans to open own-brand retail stores in Gulf

Microsoft allays fears of direct retail assault
Microsoft is planning to emulate Apple by opening retail stores in the US, but will not do so in the Middle East.

Microsoft has assured its Middle East retail partners that it currently has no plans to begin competing with them by opening its own range of branded retail showrooms.

The vendor is in the process of launching its own retail network in the US as it looks to emulate the kind of success that rival Apple has had in the consumer market, where it now operates more than 200 stores globally.

Partners anxious that the move could be repeated over here have nothing to fear, according to the vendor's most senior channel executive in the Gulf.

Zaid Abunuwar, who oversees Microsoft Gulf's partner activities in his capacity as small and medium solutions and partners director, insists there is no intention to alter its current partner-led retail model at this point in time.

"We have very good partnerships with mega retailers like Carrefour, Virgin and Plug-ins and I think we are able to meet the demand of our customers and demo our technology very well for our market with those partners. There is nothing that is planned for the Gulf," he said.

Abunuwar insists that even if there was a U-turn in strategy at a later date, partners would always be part of the equation.

"If we were to do something like this then it would actually be done through or with our existing retail partners. We would not want them to develop a market and then have no stake in it - that just wouldn't be right," said Abunuwar.

Although Microsoft has been light on details with its retail plans in the US, it announced a new VP to oversee the strategy back in February and said the first stores would be open by the end of the year.

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