HONG KONG: Microsoft, the software company, is planning to extend its presence in Asian markets by opening a branded retail store in Hong Kong before moving on to the Chinese mainland.

"There should be no doubt that Hong Kong deserves a Microsoft store," Ralph Haupter, chairman and chief executive of Microsoft Greater China, told the South China Morning Post.

"The mainland deserves to have a Microsoft store as well," he added.

But Haupter did not divulge any details regarding locations or date of opening.

"Our priority is not speed," he said. "Our priority is the right quality for consumers."

Microsoft is already operating in the Chinese e-commerce market, having opened the Microsoft Online Store last October and, earlier this year, an online store on Tmall.com.

"Microsoft sees great potential in China's e-commerce market, to offer customers across the country choice, value and service through our online store," Kevin Eagan, VP, e-commerce of Microsoft Retail Stores, said then.

The opening of physical stores is a new move that will pit the company against Apple, which has 11 branded stores in Greater China.

"We really want to go to the next step, and start branding the end-to-end experience that users have with premium devices from OEMs and obviously, our own," said Haupter.

He also observed that Microsoft already operated "a sort of Windows experience zone" inside PCCW-HKT Stores in Hong Kong. Here, consumers are able to test and ask questions on using Windows 8-based computers, smartphones and tablets.

This was a focus that Kitty Fok, IDC general manager for China, agreed with. She said it was "more important to influence the opinion of shoppers", in order to reassure them that new touchscreen-capable Windows 8 platform was not complicated to use.

Data sourced from South China Morning Post, Inside Retail Asia; additional content by Warc staff