In a move to steal some thunder back from Apple's successful online and retail presence Microsoft today started selling a variety of PCs, laptops and netbooks from the Microsoft online store.
The move, coinciding with today's Windows 7 launch, is bound to irk existing retail partners like Best Buy, and Microsoft system builders and could cause some tension with online retailers like CDW, Microsoft partners said.
Microsoft had already announced plans for a limited number of retail stores. One is opening in Scottsdale, Ariz. today, and another will open in Mission Viejo, Calif. later this month. The online store already sold Microsoft and third-party software, as well as some hardware peripherals including mice. The addition of PCs, however, raised eyebrows.
"This is a shot across Apple's bough. Microsoft has to do this because Apple is so successful with its stores and online sales and Microsoft is frustrated," said Todd Swank, vice president of marketing for Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn. based system builder.
Another Microsoft software partner said the direct hardware sales effort is also undoubtedly an attempt to get hardware vendors fully aboard with Windows 7 and pre-empt Linux pre-loads on PCs. Several netbook vendors have said they would offer Google Android or Intel Moblin as an option.
"Let me put it this way, I'm sure there was a quid pro quo," with the hardware vendors this partner said.The online site lists a limited number of models for sale. In the desktop category, there is just one model listed the Lenovo A600 for $900. Three netbooks are offered along with ten laptops.
Microsoft's Windows team blog touts the new Microsoft Online store push.