UK high streets might be full of empty shops and closing down sales, but landlords could have found one tenant with good financial record interested in expanding its business - Microsoft.
Emulating the branding boost Apple gained from opening stores a decade ago, Redmond could be about to copy the tactic. According to the Financial Times, the company is reportedly thinking of opening stores in the EU.
The most logical location for a flagship store would be the shopping capital of Europe, London, but there is no confirmation beyond a source claiming that the company has been in talks with UK landlords.
The company might expand beyond that base in time, possibly copying Apple's approach of opening stores in larger cities plus smaller towns with universities.
The timing and size of its European expansion will depend to some extent on an assessment of the performance of its current North American store.
In recent times Microsoft has rapidly expanded its US chain to around 70 on the back of own-brand hardware such as the Surface and services such as 'Signature' designed to optimise PCs to run Windows without the bloatware that populates many OEM laptops and PCs.
It is starting to look as if the company wants to get closer to consumers after decades of dealing with them at arm's length. Likely, in an increasingly mobile era served from proprietary platforms Microsoft perhaps feels it simply has too much competition for its traditional aloof approach to work.