Earlier rumors about Microsoft imitating Apple’s retail store are reportedly spot on, except that Microsoft’s locations will crank up the pizazz.
CNet reports that a lot of things we’ve come to recognize about the Apple Store will be mimicked in Microsoft’s version, including the name, dubbed the “Microsoft Store.” There will be flattery of Apple’s Genius Bar — a counter manned by tech support staff — in the form of an answer bar (earlier rumors called it the “Guru Bar,” but CNet’s report doesn’t say this). And instead of cash registers, employees will walk around with handheld devices, a la the Apple Store. An earlier report suggested that Microsoft is swiping Apple’s sales staff, too.
It won’t all feel the same, though. Instead of copying Apple’s minimalism, Microsoft will reportedly go big with Surface touch screen table tops, flashy monitors and a giant display, though it’s not clear what will appear on those screens. We’ll find out later this month, when Microsoft’s first two retail locations are scheduled to open in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Mission Viejo, California. Officially, Microsoft hasn’t commented on CNet’s report, except to say that the stores will open on schedule.
The biggest difference, of course, will be the products. Microsoft will reportedly showcase high-end computers from well-known brands, including Dell’s Adamo. However, netbooks and mid-range computers will also be stocked. Offerings from other Microsoft product lines include Windows Phones and the Xbox 360. I’m assuming that the Zune HD will also be available.
Will the Microsoft Store have the same allure as the Apple Store? I’m doubtful that people will line up to get inside, but the store could have appeal if it really stresses its entertainment devices and coolest computers (such as those that use Windows 7’s multi-touch capabilities). When you walk into an Apple Store, the first products you see are iPod Touches and iPhones. Microsoft should put its gaming consoles and the Zune HD front and center, so people are invited to come in and play.
Otherwise, the store is just a showcase for Windows, and most of us already know what that’s all about.