It's already officially confirmed that Microsoft is planning the launch of standalone retail stores, but where those stores might appear is making news.

A senior Microsoft executive has revealed that, in a somewhat confrontational move, those shops will be near existing Apple Stores, with the first premises to open in the States in autumn.

Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s chief operating officer, told partners the news at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference event, with some attendees tweeting Turner's comments during his speech.

The stores are thought to be a brand-boosting and marketing exercise. Microsoft hired an exec in February this year to oversee the plans, a previous Wal-Mart exec, David Porter has joined the company as corporate vice president of retail stores.

Following the announcement, a Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet, "As we progress on our retail strategy there will be scenarios where we have stores in proximity to Apple. We are on track to open stores in the fall timeframe".