Microsoft has announced plans to open its own chain of branded stores, much like its rival Apple's successful retail chain.

Microsoft will no doubt be using its stores to showcase its entire range of software and hardware products, including the latest Xbox 360 and PC games, the forthcoming Windows 7 operating system and a whole host of PC and Zune applications.

What credit crunch?

The Microsoft retail chain is being headed up by ex-DreamWorks Animation exec David Porter, reporting in to Microsoft COO Kevin Turner.

Many observers have noted that it is not the ideal time to be launching a retail chain, with many other consumer technology retailers suffering from the dreaded credit crunch, with US chain Circuit City recently going under.

Geniuses need not apply

Microsoft is clearly cash rich enough to take the gamble and it clearly looking towards Apple's successful move into retail.

TechRadar only asks one thing of the Redmond giant: please don't employ 'geniuses', just well-informed and pleasant sales people that are able to give impartial and useful advice. Only a thought…