After a series of missteps, Microsoft is planning to open its own retail stores to get closer to its customers.
The company has appointed David Porter, a former Wal-Mart and Dreamworks executive, to head its retail strategy.
The move follows the massively unsuccessful launch of the Vista operating system two years ago, its inability to get traction in the mobile market and the Zune music player flop.
Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner said the company was aiming to improve "the articulation and demonstration of the Microsoft innovation and value proposition so that it's clear, simple and straightforward for consumers everywhere."
He said Microsoft was about to launch Windows 7, the successor OS to Vista, and planned new releases of Windows Live and Windows Mobile.
Porter's first task will be to decide on the locations and timetable for the Microsoft-branded stores, which are certain to first roll out in North America.
"The purpose of opening these stores is to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy," Microsoft said.
Porter spent 25 years at Wal-Mart, finishing as vice president and general merchandise manager of Entertainment. He has headed distribution for Dreamworks since 2007.