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Microsoft may open retail stores in U.K. next year, says report

The company could unveil its first retail outlets abroad next year depending on how well its U.S. stores fare.

A Microsoft store in Boston.
A Microsoft store in Boston.
Jim Kerstetter/CNET

Microsoft may be opening its first European retail shops in the U.K. next year.

The folks in Redmond have been talking to property landlords in the U.K., a person familiar with the talks told the Financial Times. Microsoft reportedly expressed confidence that it will open the first outlets next year, the source said. But a final decision will be based on the performance of its U.S. stores.

This latest tidbit follows a report this past June from The Verge, saying that Microsoft would open a U.K. store next March. The company officially incorporated itself in the U.K. earlier this year, which fellow blog site Neowin said was a step clearly designed toward opening a retail location.

A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment to the Financial Times. Another Microsoft spokesman told CNET that the company is "exploring many areas for future retail locations, but we have no additional store locations to share at this time."

If the various sources are correct, it would mark Microsoft's first retail store steps outside North America.

Microsoft has been slow to the retail store game, with only 29 stores in the U.S. It just ventured outside the border by opening a store in Canada and another in Puerto Rico earlier this month.

The company has kicked off 34 special holiday pop-up retail kiosks offering a small selection of the "best Microsoft products." But those presumably will shut down after the holidays are over. In August, Microsoft said it expects to open another 44 stores by June 2013 for a total of 75.

"We know consumers' shopping needs and preferences vary greatly by market," the Microsoft spokesman also told CNET. "We'll listen to our customers, learn from them, adjust and adapt the strategy, and open additional stores as it make sense."

Updated 12:35 p.m. PT with response from Microsoft.