TechFlash is reporting that the company has hired George Blankenship, former Apple real estate chief, to consult on securing prime locations for the Microsoft stores. Blankenship moved to Apple from The Gap, and he joins former Wal-Mart executive David Porter, who is now Microsoft's corporate VP of retail stores.
By consulting for Microsoft rather than being a direct hire, Blankenship can skirt many of the issues brought on by the NCA (non-competitive agreement) that all Apple executives sign. The demographic information that Blankenship might use to pinpoint Microsoft store locations is available publicly, and the techniques used by Apple to successfully open retail locations have been widely discussed since the first Apple Store opened in 2001.
While the locations, products carried, and general look and feel of the Microsoft retail outlets are still under wraps, the first stores are expected to open prior to the October 22nd launch date for Windows 7.