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First it was Apple shops now Microsoft has moved into the retail space with the opening of a new online retail operation in the US. The store will sell everything from the ill fated Vista operating system to Zune players and keyboards. It is not known whether the Company plans to open their own online store in Australia.

Customers are able to buy and download products via the introduction of new Electronic Software Distribution (ESD) systems that can also build online profiles similar to what Apple is doing with their online and iTunes stores

 U.S. customers can buy first-party software and hardware directly from the company via an online catalog. Products include software, devices and hardware, such as Office 2007, Vista, Visual 2008, Windows Server 2008, Xbox 360 consoles and accessories and the new Zune.

John Murrell of Silicon Valley Online sqaid No more waiting for Vista (until you actually boot up): In a move that some of its retail partners may find disquieting, Microsoft has finally opened an online store for U.S. customers. As with its outlets in the U.K., Germany and South Korea, the store will sell packaged goods from Access to Zunes, but it’s really pushing product downloads with an appeal to the impatient (no waiting those torturous few days for delivery), the environmentally sensitive (no packaging) and the sloppy (no worries about losing your product key code).

In announcing the ribbon-cutting, Microsoft senior program manager Trevin Chow anticipated some of the qualms about Electronic Software Distribution. “The obvious fear for most users buying ESD products is not having the software on physical media to re-install the product at a later time,” he wrote. “Microsoft Store solves this by letting you re-download the product until mainstream support for the product ends. Typically this is 5 years after the product is released. You always have the option of copying the downloaded products to physical media if you want to have it available longer than the mainstream support lifetime.” What you won’t find are any bargains. Prices at the Microsoft Store are right around full list, with substantially better deals often as nearby as Amazon. In any case, let’s hope that the concept of truth in labeling is taken a little more seriously inside the store than it was during the “Vista Capable” shenanigans.

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