Despite the contrary wisdom of the current economic crisis, Microsoft appears to be moving ahead with plans to open a series of retail stores. The company has hired a former Wal-Mart corporate hound as their corporate VP of retail stores, which probably doesn’t bode well for anyone expecting an intimate, customer-focused retail experience ala your local neighborhood Apple store. Little has been set in stone, but the company is currently scouting out retail locations and attempting to codify its retail strategy, hoping to “improve the PC buying experience”. There’s no word on whether the stores themselves will be solely focused on PC retail, or if they’ll also allow shoppers to purchase various other Microsoft-themed products, including Zunes and XBoxs, though we can’t imagine Microsoft would pass up an opportunity to peddle their full range of wares. The time frame for opening the babies up is still unknown, but in typical Microsoft fashion, we wouldn’t expect much to happen for quite a while, giving us enough time to mentally and physically prepare for the Wal-Mart of computer buying experiences.