back to article 'Is this Microsoft trying to be cool? Want to go to the Apple Store?' We checked out London's new retail extravaganza

Microsoft finally opened the doors on its flagship store at London shopping mecca Oxford Circus today, leaving all but the most breathless fanboys wondering what exactly the company had spent the last few years actually doing. The shop is the company's first physical retail store in the UK and covers an antiTARDIS-like 22,000 …

  1. Ragarath

    Pavement Plodder

    "Oh hey – is this Microsoft trying to be cool? Want to go to the Apple Store?"

    Why is this any better? Apple is trying to be cool/hip by having a shop too; and both failing. No need for either IMHO.

    Start biting the hand, not pandering to your favorite iThings maker Note the bias throughout the article.

    1. Benson's Cycle

      Re: Pavement Plodder

      I detest Apple (the company), and I thought it was a reasonable article.

      1. sad_loser

        Re: Pavement Plodder

        I think OP is trolling.

        MS are so late to the direct retail game and sounds like they have missed the point so embarrassingly that it is not funny.

        They had a PR event to build up the buzz about this outside Kings Cross the other day and it was lamentable and even the PR people looked embarrassed.

        Apple realised that they needed the stores to target the rich and stupid aka upper middle class professionals with too much money who wanted a good computer (but weren't prepared to invest any time learning) and get them suckling on the apple ecosystem teat, and this has been remarkably successful. Apple stores were never for the people who read El Reg.

        I bet this store will be closed quietly after Christmas.

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Re: Pavement Plodder

          That's a mischaracterisation of Apple users. They are not stupid. They are people who have jobs which are unrelated to IT but need IT to function. Microsoft managed to make Windows and Office just that bit too difficult. With Windows and Unix there are many different ways of doing the same thing, which is good for people who care about such things (like me) but a distraction for lawyers and copywriters.

          Apple offered a simplified experience in a box sufficiently shiny that these people would buy it because it didn't look dumb. Once that had happened, aspirational people would buy the product too, to look like professionals. Part (only a part) of what happened to BlackBerry was that the word got round that the underlings had the BlackBerries (scheduling, calendaring and messaging had to work 100%) but the boss had the iPhone.

          No matter what Microsoft does it can never be the cool one because everybody remembers it when it was dorky and wore NHS spectacles.

          1. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeep

            Re: Pavement Plodder

            Possibly gullible? It's not like Apple invest in teaching their users that a lot of users are smarter than the user themselves think.

            For a lot (possible most or all) of usage patterns PC and Android devices offer similar apps and cost the same or significantly less.

            Especially for older users that don't actually use any of the paid for Apple services or apps.

            And with all the changes in understanding of people in our societies these days it might not be healthy for a company to assume their customer will always have the same pedujices.

            1. Tim99 Silver badge

              Re: Pavement Plodder

              I started in professional computing writing FORTRAN applications in 1971 - As somebody who is a volunteer teacher for the "over fifties" at our purpose built local government centre with nearly 2000 members, I can tell you that our pupils generally have less trouble with iPads and iPhones than they do with Android devices. We have almost given up teaching “PCs" because of the long and steep learning curve, and the lack of demand. We do still spend a fair bit of time helping existing Windows users sort out problems, rather than them having to use a "professional" at >£100.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Pavement Plodder

              "Especially for older users that don't actually use any of the paid for Apple services or apps."

              I may be old but at least I can spell "prejudices" :-P

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Pavement Plodder

          The stores can be helpful sometimes. If there are problems that can't be solved right there, the Apple employees in the nearby store can deal with it. When, for example, I was having trouble talking my brother through a Mac software failure (major software failure resulting in the OS not booting, so no remote control) from hours away, I could send him to the Apple store with a page of instructions I wrote up as to what the machine should be like when they finished with it. They are also reasonably helpful for some minor hardware problems. FYI, if a key tile falls off your Mac keyboard, the Apple store will replace it for you without you trying to hunt down a suitably-sized replacement and install it. At least they used to. I hope they still do. It doesn't change the problems with Apple, and almost all of the things that happen in the stores aren't of use to the technical among us, but they're occasionally mildly helpful.

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Pavement Plodder

      There's no meaningful difference, but there is a large image difference.

      Apple has been putting a huge amount of effort into seeming "cool" for decades. That effort itself is part of their identity. The same is not true for Microsoft -- Microsoft has never been "cool", nor has it ever tried to be cool. Microsoft's identity is pure corporate. Thus, it doesn't seem weird for Apple to try to be cool, but it's a bit cringeworthy when Microsoft tries it, in the same way that it's cringeworthy when middle-aged people try dressing, talking, and acting like they're in their 20s.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Pavement Plodder

        'Microsoft has never been "cool", nor has it ever tried to be cool.'

        Maybe back in 8-bit days....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pavement Plodder


      You must be new.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Ragarath - Re: Pavement Plodder

      Apple is cool/hip while Microsoft is trying to be cool/hip. It's makes a difference although I don't like any of the two in particular.

      1. Col_Panek

        Re: @Ragarath - Pavement Plodder

        Microsoft's business plan: "Monkey see monkey do."

    5. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Pavement Plodder

      "Note the bias" Good lets the Rage Consume you and start an internet argument!

    6. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Pavement Plodder

      I suspect marketing think its cool, therefore my opinion is they have copied.

      I still have no idea how they made the Surface a must have device, last MD wanted one and I assume the next MD will want one to (I suppose its better than our old HP TC1100 or TC4200's in terms of form factor but they still look like a Linx tablet with a posher case to me).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pavement Plodder

        I always thought the Surface Pros looked fairly cool/desirable - until I got one and you could not pay me to have one now. In 18 months I had to have the keyboards replaced twice, was plagued by intermittent wifi problems constantly - I was back and forth to my IT support people and they could not fix it and rarely got more than 90 mins out of the battery. The setup on the machine was basic and there was nothing unusual on there - just Office.

        I also own a Linx and for the money, it is a brilliant bit of kit. Does not suffer the same problems at all and feels more substantial, bizarrely.....

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: Surface

          One of my clients (accountant) was talked into buying one, then asked me to set up the various things that the guy in the shop was unable to. The first thing he had difficulty with was connecting to a corporate email system using the inbuilt email app. Shudder.

          Second thing was the keyboard. The fancy on-screen keyboard didn't, by default, have an essential key on it (can't remember, either the £ sign or the backslash). To have that you have to use a different on-screen keyboard which was for some unmemorable reason inferior to the default one.

          Sorry for the vagueness, the main thing I learned from the experience was to advocate steering clear of MS hardware, apart from their corded mouse. (The keyboards of theirs that I've encountered have function keys that are too small).

          1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

            Re: Surface

            Yup have loads of Zombie like MS Intellimice from when they were first sold around here, can't kill em (So I advice going for the MS Basic Opitcal Black mice as they don't yellow like the white versions)!

    7. Imapwr

      Re: Pavement Plodder

      I was looking forward to reading about the opening of the store(on TheRegister) till the age old ifan (PSplaywithimself boy) started, My respect has gone.

      It's great Microsoft have opened the store, it's been a long time coming, that's the only negative

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Pavement Plodder

        "I was looking forward to reading about the opening of the store(on TheRegister)"

        How much did who pay you to create an ElReg account to post that?

      2. Kane Silver badge

        Re: Pavement Plodder

        Well, as jake alluded in his post, we'll see what your post history turns up over the following weeks...

        Here's your jacket, you should probably go...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pavement Plodder

        "It's great Microsoft have opened the store, it's been a long time coming, that's the only negative"

        A little bit of sick actually came up into my mouth after reading that.... :-(

    8. jake Silver badge

      Re: Pavement Plodder

      "pandering to your favorite iThings maker"

      Bad troll. No cookie.

    9. P. Lee

      Re: Pavement Plodder

      Would you rather visit the "genius bar" or the "answer desk"?

      Whatever your view of these companies, Apple makes stuff which is nice to touch, nice to look at and market it with panache - but MS does not. Neither will MS give you end-of-season sales.

      I can see how Apple makes retail work, even if I think their stuff is overpriced and under spec'ed. It is hard to imagine what MS hoped to achieve with a retail site.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Pavement Plodder

        "Would you rather visit the "genius bar" or the "answer desk"?"


  2. SVV Silver badge

    Microsoft's take on Apple's Genius Bar: the Answer Desk

    Microsoft Answer Desk will form an appropriate acronym when the next device bricking Windows 10 update rolls out onto all the Surfaces they sell there and the victims turn up to complain.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft's take on Apple's Genius Bar: the Answer Desk

      Don't you want it to just be the bloke from IT cloud?

      You take a number, queue up an he just says "have you tried turning it off and on again? Next"

  3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    a shop, er, "retail experience", built to fit around a corner.

    Say it... go on... say it... you really meant to say...

    A Corner Shop.

    1. drand

      Re: a shop, er, "retail experience", built to fit around a corner.

      Unlike the Apple store, which features innovative smooth radii.

      1. Charlie van Becelaere

        Re: a shop, er, "retail experience", built to fit around a corner.

        "innovative smooth radii"

        They're not merely innovative - I believe they're covered by a design patent!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Will they have daily, free to use classes as the Apple store does? As a career Wintel person retiring to the land of Apple toys was a revelation. I once worked on an M$ support desk in Dublin were sheeple were kept on high cost lines for 40mins before I got to speak to them. Apple called me back on my mobile and spent a couple of hours sorting my (strange) issue. The in store training they offer is excellent and if M$ can come close to that good luck to them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Comparisons?

      I had an issue with trying to use iCloud services on my PC.

      Contacted Microsoft: very abrupt, speak to Apple. Call closed.

      Contacted Apple, got a call back from their support guy, spent time to diagnose the problem, escalated it to a senior tech who called me; went back and forth for some days, turns out it was an obscure issue with Microsoft software, BUT Apple ended up fixing it.

      I know who I would rather deal with.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Virtual Reality?

    No Virtual Reality?

    I thought Microsoft invented the blue screen experience.

  6. N2 Silver badge

    Did they have a floor...

    For telemetry, surveillance and bolloxing updates?

    It is after all what Microsoft are best known for.

    1. Col_Panek

      Re: Did they have a floor...

      You didn't notice the cameras and microphones? Good.

  7. yossarianuk

    GNU Store ?

    I for one would welcome a GNU store, it would be swarming with hippies who would have good quality drugs

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: GNU Store ?

      For your local GNU store, see any retail outlet which sells anything computerized.

  8. Karlis 1

    Time is money

    Apple offers high-ish priced, but fairly reliable and ready to go packages.

    Microsoft offers non-stop updates and investing in time to become proficient with registry and AD debugging.

    There are people who's time is actually worth something. They are the ones that pick macs and get on with earning money. Not a popular opinion here, but not everyone is an enthusiast that will give up shagging his girlfriend to pick the best candidate motherboard for his 3rd rebuild this year.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Time is money

      Yep. Time is money. So is hardware. That's why my businesses have been running Slackware for over 20 years, and I've only had to purchase three laptops in all that time. My wife (also a Slackware user) heartily approves.

  9. gnasher729 Silver badge

    I’m a professional software developer. I spend my time making sure our customers don’t run into problems with our software, so when I run into real problems with my Mac or iPhone I don’t waste my trying to fix it, but take it to the Apple Store.

    One item they fixed was O2 email just stopping to work (after O2 support couldn’t fix it, and it turned out to be because of a configuration change by O2). They are - in the store one mile away from my home- extremely competent. Friends and family are still often surprised by the idea that you could go to a store with your problem and they actually fix it.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Thank you El Reg for another 2 minute hate on MSFT.

  11. stevebp

    Steve Ballmer is alive and well

    I saw the opening on BBC London News last night and the whooping, arm waving and general pant-wetting excitement displayed by the staff reminded me of the cringe-worthy Windows 95 launch with Steve Ballmer and equally cringy Bill Gates trying to dance like Theresa May (or is it the other way round?). There was your definition of MS coolness right there - it doesn't exist...

  12. Prichy
    Big Brother

    Feels shallow and a little claustrophobic

    "... feels shallow and a little claustrophobic."

    So truly reflects the MS experience then!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only

    Microsoft had some handheld device I could use to make calls, send texts and surf the internet

  14. Updraft102 Silver badge

    Apple was never cool to anyone whose opinion I care about. I hated that smug hipster doofus on the "I'm a Mac" commercials, and I have to say that it fit quite well what I already thought of Apple and its typical users. It's so contrived and deliberate, which is the opposite of cool. Trying to be cool is not cool.

    Microsoft's attempt to be Apple is even worse. Pretending to be cool is bad enough, but pretending to be someone else pretending to be cool just adds a whole other layer of stupidity. Microsoft was more cool when it knew what it was, and when everyone else did, too, including the makers of that same series of TV commercials I already mentioned. Now that they're trying to be Apple, or whatever it is they're trying to do, they're the farthest thing from cool.

    Microsoft, try making a decent consumer product and then worry about the useless faff like being cool. Cool is the icing on the cake, but you don't even have a cake. Cool is in the consumer sector, and you're not going to get there with Azure. Not releasing garbage like Windows 10 and forcing consumers to beta test it themselves would be cool. Actually testing the software in-house to make sure it works is cool. The perception of Apple as "cool" hinges on its "just works" reputation at the consumer level, and here you are using consumers as cannon fodder for your corporate customers, then trying to compete with Apple by having your very own version of the Apple store. You're trying to apply the icing to a cake made out of nothing!

    There has to be a kernel of truth in the perception that your consumer product actually does what it says on the tin (in Apple's case, that it "just works") before you can be perceived as cool. What exactly is it that makes you cool, Microsoft? What product do you have that's cool in some way? Did you think that copying the "store" idea was going to be enough? Apple was "cool" before there was ever an Apple store.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >What exactly is it that makes you cool, Microsoft?

      Active Directory ?

  15. Col_Panek

    Waiting for a Linux store

    ... where the beer is free.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Waiting for a Linux store

      Or at least a bunch of brewing experts tell you how to make your own home brew for free.

      Meanwhile at the apple store there is only ice chilled fizzy lager but you have to drink it from a glass with a handle and they have patented how you hold it

  16. MrKrotos

    "array of gaming laptops from third parties "

    LMFAO! So, the MS Surface isn’t up to the job? Wow what a surprise!

    You would think that for the money MS is charging for the Surface, it might be able to run games!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    A piece on the new Microsft store ?? and not a single mention of the Windows

    Anonymouse for a reason.

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