Strange New World: Tech Picks of the Week

Microsoft follows in Apple's footsteps with its own chain of retail stores.

ByABC News
February 19, 2009, 6:25 PM

Feb. 20, 2009— -- Let's got to the ... Microsoft store?

Yup, it looks like Redmond, like blood-competitor Apple, has had enough of the racket that is U.S. retailing.

The software giant is going to open its own stores. And overseas, at the fancy Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Microsoft showed even more Apple flattery with a direct iPhone-inspired mobile software: Windows Mobile 6.5.

Also this week, the Depression 2.0 we are fighting through looks to have chosen an early winner: video conferencing seems to have finally stepped beyond its tech Zombie phase.

These days everyone's grandmother is chatting on the video camera. Could we be looking at a worldwide Web fireside chat soon?

Here are our picks for the top tech stories of the week:

If imitation is the ultimate form of flattery, then Microsoft just laid a big, fat, wet kiss on longtime rival Apple.

Redmond is following in the Apple Store model with plans to open its own chain of retail stores.

The software giant went out and hired David Porter, a 25-year veteran of retailer Wal-Mart, to get the effort off the ground. Hopefully, that means things will go better than they did for such flops as Microsoft Groove or OneNote.

At first blush, the idea seems a little ridiculous. What exactly does the nerdiest place on earth look like? Clutter? Cold pizza?

And then there is the question of what will be for sale at the store: Operating systems? Exchange Server software? Bill Gates T-Shirts? But hey, we scoffed at the Apple Store back in the day. And look how wrong we were. Now there are 200 of them.

And they are the place to buy technology.

You know things technological are flat here in the good old U S of A when a cell phone show in Barcelona is one of our picks of the week. But it is.

The GSMA Mobile World Congress over in the land of Flamenco had some choice Microsoft news: The company introduced a new riff on its mobile phone software: Windows Mobile 6.5.