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Best Buy Turnaround Plans Solidify With Windows Store

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Best Buy's (BBY - Get Report) efforts to breathe new life into its stores appear to be gaining traction after the big box retailer unveiled a Windows Store partnership with Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) that mirrors a similar concept it's already rolled out with Samsung.

On Thursday, Best Buy said it will create Windows stores within 500 of the company's U.S.-based outlets and another 100 in Canada, in a partnership with Microsoft that may help drive increasing consumer interest in products such as the Microsoft Surface, Windows Phone, Xbox and Microsoft's PC ecosystem.

Best Buy shares gained over 2% in Thursday trading and closed at $27.56.

For tech giants such as Microsoft, Samsung and even Apple (AAPL - Get Report), Best Buy store-in-store concepts increasingly appear a way to ensure new tablet, smartphone and PC products get the promotion they need with consumers.

Best Buy, the nation's top retailer, also sees a benefit from such store-in-store arrangements because it helps to bolster consumer experiences and the company's overall service, potentially helping to differentiate its brick-and-mortar outlets from online competition in Amazon (AMZN) and discounters such as Wal-Mart (WMT) and Costco (COST).

The Windows store-within-a-store concept is similar to a partnership Best Buy unveiled with Samsung in April and which is all but complete, according to company spokesperson Jon Sandler.

Like Samsung stores, the Windows Store will contain a mix of Best Buy sales staff and specialists directly from Microsoft.

Windows Stores will have 1,200 Microsoft trained sales associates, according to a press release. Such specialization could be beneficial to both Microsoft in getting its Windows 8 operating system a critical mass, and in helping to revive some slumping businesses at Best Buy.

For instance, while tech critics have generally found Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system to be a compelling challenge to Apple's iOS and Google's Android, they have also lamented it is a confusing interface. Having trained specialists in Best Buy, the biggest point of contact between many hardware manufacturers and the consumer, could help to familiarize the software.
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