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Microsoft reportedly at odds over retail store push

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wants to aggressively launch more retail stores, according to the Business Insider, but some in the company have urged him to hold back.

Microsoft

Microsoft has reportedly been at odds internally over how aggressively it should expand its retail stores.

Citing sources close to the company, Business Insider reported this week that CEO Steve Ballmer and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner have both been pushing for more Microsoft retail stores in a drive to match or even exceed the 300 Apple stores doing business around the world.

But others in the company have apparently been crunching the numbers to argue against such a rapid expansion. To match the appeal of the Apple stores, Microsoft's stores have proven expensive to build. Plus, most of the stores have so far failed to turn a profit, according to Business Insider. One reason is that many of the products they sell are available at a variety of other retail chains.

So far, Ballmer seems to have been persuaded to hold off on trying to catch up with Apple on the sheer number of stores. But that strategy isn't written in stone, according to Business Insider, as the retail push could ramp up if the stores start to earn their keep or if Microsoft wants retail space to sell a specific product.

Responding to a question about the retail store strategy, a Microsoft spokesperson told CNET that the company is unable to share any specific information but said that "since 2009, we have opened eight stores and seen over 3.4 million customers and are thrilled with what we're hearing from them thus far."

Since launching its first Microsoft store in 2009, the company has been expanding its retail presence slowly with its eight current stores across the U.S., with a ninth slated to open in Atlanta this spring. The stores sell PCs and software as well as specific Microsoft gear such as the Xbox 360 console. The PCs themselves are customized and optimized to remove any crapware installed by the vendors. The stores also offer an Answer Desk, similar to Apple's Genius Bar, along with training classes and other in-store services.

Updated at 10:15 AM PT with statement from Microsoft.