Microsoft Stores, those elusive shrines to all things Windows and Xbox that the Redmond, Washington company hopes will help it compete with Apple, will soon become a lot more commonplace if a recently announced roadmap holds true. The company plans to expand its number of brick-and-mortar outlets to 44 by next June, up from a total of 20 stores currently standing (nine more are already under construction).

Overall, Microsoft wants to build 75 new stores over the next two to three years in various markets across the country. The company says the stores will help it "tell the Microsoft story," but it is also no doubt eager to broaden the reach of pivotal new products like the upcoming Surface tablet. Microsoft has said it will only sell Surface at Microsoft Stores and at

[via AllThingsD]