Somewhere to get refunds!
Microsoft is laying the foundations to open up a retail store in the UK with a launch date marked for early next Spring. The software maker revealed plans to open up 75 stores across the globe at its worldwide partner conference last July and as one of the largest tech markets in Europe, the UK will act as an appropriate …
I was in the Valley Fair shopping mall in San Jose,CA in March, it was 11am on a Sunday. The Apple Store was jam packed with people, the Microsoft store opposite had 2 people in it, both staff. Apple stores work because most of the items in them are Apple products so it is a focussed experience, MS stores are basically just another PCWorld - no USP.
I suspect they will do what they do in any important sales presentation: fill the place with Microsoft staff. It has the benefit that they can pretend to be really enthusiastic about the product/presentation (which is always a giveaway when you see slides with numbers without the slightest attribution) and they can immediately engage with any dissenters and take them offline so they don't interrupt the flow of pure BS.
I suspect they will use the same tactic as with Microsoft Consultancy: get a load of contractors in for almost no money. The only difference will be is that they won't then sell those people as Microsoft Consultants for £1..2k/day (if you wondered why government IT is crap, here's a partial answer).
The quickest way to trip a Microsoft presentation is to start questioning the "facts", origin as well as interpretation - especially the numerical parts are almost as creative as the DTI report on speed camera effectiveness..
The Apple store is all brushed steel and glass in line with their image. So I expect the Microsoft store to be a 1960's concrete building laden with asbestos.
Seriously, this looks doomed. Apple have high markup expensive products to sell. Not sure if Microsoft aren't better letting PC World do this sort of thing.
Best guesses as to where this will be?
Thames Valley Park, Reading. Nice and close to MS HQ but where nobody can see its dismal failure (apart from Oracle just down the road).
I really dare them to put one next door to an Apple Store.
Or maybe Apple will be watching for a planning application and then put one of their stores close by.
The MS Store I visited a couple of weeks ago in Ca was like a morgue. As another poster has said, it was just as bad as going into PCW.
Nah. They wouldn't would they?
I live by the "Mall of America" and Microsoft did just that, built it twice as large and right across the hall from the Apple store in the biggest shopping mall in the US. It still has one fifth the traffic the Apple store, and its a sad, sad copy, from the minimalist layout right down to the casual dress staff. Their biggest market is old people, kids who want to play with the Kinnect, and shoplifters.
I visited one in San Francisco in a place called the Metreon. It didn't do very well. I expect if they launch more stores they'll probably be an Apple Store ripoff. I have to wonder if they have enough products to actually fill it and do so in a coherent way. Or whether the custom is even there to support a store which is likely to command high premiums versus all the online sites you can buy stuff. Microsoft doesn't control the retail channels as tightly as Apple so they can't stop themselves from being undercut for most of the stuff they'd sell.
I can't understand why they think they would need a store. What value do they think they would add and why would a customer want to shop there?
Microsoft have become so deluded that they are acting like a headless chicken that doesn't even register that it's head is missing. Five years ago if they brought the Surface to market for half the price of an Ultrabook, then we would all have had a reason to queue outside the MS Store. Had they then shown some understanding of the market and allowed the creative juices to flow unhindered for the next 5 years, we would still be queuing. Shame. Shame. Shame.
It does seem a little odd. Apple's stores exist as they are too expensive to be sold by supermarkets, PC world do a bad job of stocking Apple stuff. Comet actually have proper Apple trained staff, but you just know they'll keep sending you warranty or insurance quotes (I had about 12 letters in total about my dishwasher from them).
But with Microsoft stuff you can get it pretty much anywhere.
As I have said in an earlier post, Ballmer is desperate to do an Apple, and thinks he can get away with it now Jobs isn't there to publicly laugh at him.
Microsoft has a long history of trying to imitate, steal or, as a last resort, buy innovation and then try to absorb it into the Windows lockup. Stacker, VISIO - a lot of good stuff has gone to Microsoft to get ruined. The problem is that a combination of Vista and the ribbon interface have pretty much nuked the upgrade cycle so profits are declining and there is no strategy for growth because people have become too aware that the word "innovation" only means "you're going to have to spend, again" when uttered by Microsoft. To make things worse, the crisis has made people finally think about what they spend, and why.
Thus, the idea to "do an Apple" - the illusion that you can enter any different business strategy by throwing enough money at it has still not waned in Microsoft HQ, but Ballmer never was an original thinker - Gates and him only shared the same deplorable ethics.
The entertaining thing is that the way they are going about it amounts to sending the Titanic back to ram the iceberg once more. They have pre-announced - this puts an age limit on current products so sales will slow down. They have announced to do their own hardware, which not only pisses off every OEM they have worked with, but also removes the blackmail that has kept those OEMs from looking at alternative platforms - guess where they will go? They have tried to make a unified interface (an idea Apple has avoided for simple reasons of usability versus use) - the Vista/ribbon disaster is still fresh in people's minds and the new GUI doesn't exactly get rave reviews, even by the mags where they pay for ads.
This is not re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, it amounts to trying to stop the current inflow of water using C4 explosives. Buy some popcorn and sit back - this is going to be interesting. Especially upsetting the OEMs is something Ballmer and co will suffer for as it pushes those very hard towards Linux and Google Chrome.
So, to get back to the original point, the shops make thus perfect sense - MS is trying to do an Apple.
Is an MS store as creepy as an Apple one?
I know Apple stores are full of the shiny-shiny, so they attract hordes of kids to play on the iPads. But on product launch days, and times when the kids are in school they've got that whole Midwich Cuckoos mad staring thing going on...
You've got the members of staff hanging round the door, with iPods hung round their necks, just to direct you to other rmembers of staff who abandon you standing at tables of shiny, while they tap incantations into their dangling iNecklaces, then disappear off into the innter-sanctum in the back room, to return and present you ceremoniously with a bag of shiny... Presumably after they've performed a ritual sacrifice of one of the kids they've so cunningly lured in to play Angry Birds, and divined from their entrails that you are worthy to buy such a holy relic...
I know that queuing is so last century, and it's nice to have human service. But when the store's full, you've nowhere to queue, and you have to wander round like a lost soul, until one of the iPriesthood is free to take your confession (and credit card).
The bit where they email your receipt to you is good though.
The sooner this store is a reality the better. Too many consumers are missing out on the fantastic end to end experience only offered by Windows Phone devices due to morally bankrupt salesmen in Carphone Warehouse and people on this site who badmouth it just because they hate Microsoft for no logical reason without actually trying the unique and intuitive features that Windows Phone has to offer on the excellent Nokia Lumia hardware.
Not sure if you are being uber-ironic, or trolling, but you may just have a point. The one point I could see, where MS might just be able to work it, is for Windows Mobile/8. After all, you go to an Apple store, and all you can buy is an iPhone/iPad.
Go to a Microsoft store, and you can choose from a variety of models and makes - as long as they run Windows.
I wonder how CPW et al feel about this ?
They could also use a store as a place where you can buy brand Windows PCs and possibly microservers etc, without all the crapware installed. MS have been saying that they're going to start doing that, because they're fed up of their suppliers trashing the OS by installing low quality software which slows down the machine and generally makes it a pig.
From the viewpoint of a designer, it was clear that PCs needed a fresh face. Although Microsoft has always been the undisputed technical leader in operating systems, the windows and icons metaphor has become rather tired. Worse, file icons and shortcuts mar what could otherwise be a pristine desktop, and the ability to simultaneously view multiple applications forces the user to multitask, distracting from the most important task at hand.
But change is afoot, and Metro+Windows 8 is designed to play a pivotal role in Microsoft's bold leadership into a future awash with touch-centric devices. Metro isn't just pretty: It's efficient and supports quick navigation. Unfortunately, because it represents a bold new user interface paradigm, Microsoft needs to reeducate citizens and gently help them to become part of this brighter, shinier future of computing. That's why these Microsoft "retail stores" are so necessary, even if as a cost center they end up taking a loss.
"Trademark registration 4036534 relates to the design of a "retail store with four curved tabletops at the front and rear side walls and a rectangular band displaying changing video images on the wall".
Holy shit! Have they really managed to trademark a shop floor layout?
The shutters outside the store that are pulled down when the joint is closed for the evening, will have a custom paint job...
Painted on will be a large Windows 98 style dialogue box with the text "This store has performed an illegal operation and has been closed by Microsoft. Aborting, Failing and Retrying at 9am (11am Sundays)
I'm not making it up*, It's part of their new marketing drive to become more "cuddly".
The "salespeople" will be a bunch of lawyers, maybe with a notary standing by for the actual sale. Those lawyers have no idea about the products, but about the license agreements. There will be an unused "license reading room" where you could theoretically read the x00 pages of the printed out EULA. Maybe they'll be customer friendly and force you to sign every single page to make sure you have read them all.
Maybe they'll have some technical support staff. They will be accessible in special booths after you pay the $100 support fee per question.
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