Week in review: Microsoft too close for Apple's comfort?

Software giant plans to open retail stores near Apple's, while Apple reportedly wants Microsoft's TV spots axed. Also: Better tech times on the horizon?

Microsoft is moving into Apple's territory and is making no secret of its target.

The software giant announced plans to open its first stores this fall , with at least some of the locations likely to be right near an Apple store. The fall timing is not surprising. One would assume that Microsoft would want to have the stores open in time for Windows 7's October 22 retail launch and for the holiday selling season.

Speaking at the Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans, Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told people to "stay tuned" for more news on the retail front.

"And stay tuned, because we're going to have some retail stores opened up that are opened up right next door to Apple stores this fall," he said. "Stay tuned, just stay tuned."

It should come as no surprise that Apple isn't a big fan of Microsoft's "Laptop Hunters" ads, but some may be surprised to learn that the Mac maker's lawyers reportedly called a senior Microsoft executive and demanded that the ads be removed .

The most intriguing part of Turner's speech was when he recounted a telephone call he says he got from Apple's legal department, demanding that Microsoft remove the ads.

According to Turner, "two weeks ago, we got a call from the Apple legal department, saying, hey--this is a true story--saying, 'Hey, you need to stop running those ads; we lowered our prices.' They took like $100 off or something. It was the greatest single phone call in the history that I've ever taken in business.

Microsoft also announced how much it will charge companies that want to use its Windows Azure cloud-computing service when it is released in final form this fall. The software maker announced a variety of plans, including one that charges purely on consumption and another that offers discounted rates for those that agree to a six-month commitment.

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