Microsoft mum on Apple connection to its new retail hires

But first Microsoft store manager is former Apple Store employee, source says

Despite unconfirmed reports that Microsoft Corp. is recruiting Apple Store employees for its new retail stores, the software maker was evasive about any Apple connection, saying its goal "is to hire the best of the best in the retail industry."

Meanwhile, Microsoft has hired a Houston-area Apple Store employee to become the manager of its first retail store in Arizona.

Cheryl Hibbard was hired last month as manager of Microsoft's new retail store in Scottsdale, Ariz., according to a Microsoft employee blog called MicroSpotting.

Hibbard was an employee at the Apple Store in the Houston Galleria mall, confirmed a manager at one of Hibbard's former employers in Houston.

Hibbard did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

"We are hiring retail talent from across the industry, as well as a cross section of people with diverse experiences outside of retail," Microsoft said in an e-mailed statement to Computerworld. "Our goal is to hire the best of the best in the retail industry."

An employee at the Galleria's Apple Store referred all questions to Apple Inc.'s corporate public relations department, which did not respond to a request for comment.

Citing unnamed sources, Apple blog The Loop reported Monday that Microsoft is "poaching" Apple Store employees, offering them "significant" raises and relocation packages.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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