PCs need a brand (and why Microsoft stores could revolutionize how a consumer buys one)

The end of the modern era of PC sales is nigh.

OK, so that may be a bit of an overstatement. But the potential is there for a radical shift in the way PCs are sold to consumers.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley notes that Microsoft plans to open retail stores this fall, probably to coincide with the release of its next-generation operating system, Windows 7. Foley reports that Microsoft may copy the feel of the (wildly successful) Apple Store and may simply use the stores as a product showcase, rather than a proper retail outlet.

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