Microsoft will be opening four new retail stores by the summer as well as international stores in time for the year-end holiday buying season, according to a new report from The Verge.

A person familiar with Redmond's plans says that new stores will open in Palo Alto, California and Austin, Texas in April. Both stores will be located in popular malls that also feature Apple retail stores. Furthermore, two additional stores will find their way to New Jersey; one in Freehold and another in Bridgewater. Much like the California and Texas stores, these will be located inside busy malls alongside Apple stores with plans to open before the end of June.

Microsoft is also planning to open one of their first international stores in Canada by the end of the year. The store will be located in Toronto and will join at least one other international store in 2012. All of this is part of the company's plan to open 75 new retail stores over the next couple of years.

Unbeknownst to many, Microsoft's first retail store opened in 1999 as microsoftSF in San Francisco, although it was owned and operated by Sony. The shop shut down in 2001 and it wasn't until 2009 that Microsoft opened a retail store in Scottsdale, Arizona (on the same day that Windows 7 launched). The chain now consists of 14 retail stores, although they have a long road ahead if they plan to match Apple's 361 stores worldwide.

Image courtesy Dru Bloomfield.