Microsoft Opens Online Store for U.S.

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Microsoft customers in the United States are finally getting access to something long overdue from the company: an online store. Following company-owned online stores in Germany, the United Kingdom and Korea, Microsoft officially opened a store in its home country on Friday.

MicrosoftStore.com will sell the company’s entire consumer catalog, from software to products for the Xbox console and even hardware, like its mice and keyboards.

Unfortunately, prices will remain at MSRP, even on products many other retailers have discounted heavily. The full version of Office 2007 Professional, for instance, goes for $499.95 at the Microsoft Store, $439.74 at Wal-Mart, and $379.99 at Amazon.

Instead of relying on prices to draw consumers in, Microsoft will market the store as the easiest way for consumers to pick up Microsoft products. For instance, software will be available as a direct download, allowing customers to use the day they buy it rather than waiting for a box in the mail, and all keys will be stored directly with the store, meaning there’s no paper slip to lose.

Aside from the U.S. store, which is accessible now, Microsoft has also planned online stores for Japan, France, Spain and the Netherlands in the future.