I read the BBC article "Microsoft to launch retail chain".
The stores will also promote new operating system Windows 7 and updates of Windows Live and Windows Mobile.
The company plans to sell computers installed with Microsoft software....
Buying a computer without Microsoft software is not easy. So why launch these shops?
To me it seams that Microsoft has not had to try for so many years, if you wanted a computer then it would run Microsoft or Microsoft. Now there are viable alternatives developing (especially Apple and Linux / open-source) and Microsoft is starting to feel vulnerable. So at last Microsoft is having to make an effort to sell its products, rather than users just being stuck with them, and their shoddy support.