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Best Buy Turnaround Plans Solidify With Windows Store

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Best Buy's (BBY) 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) 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), 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.

Stock quotes in this article: AAPL, BBY, MSFT, GOOG, NOK 

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