Microsoft to follow Apple with its own family of retail stores

Microsoft to follow Apple with its own family of retail stores

Summary: Microsoft is planning to launch a number of new Microsoft-branded retail stores, according to a company press release issued late in the day on February 12.

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TOPICS: Apple, Microsoft
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Microsoft is planning to launch a number of new Microsoft-branded retail stores, according to a company press release issued late in the day on February 12.

The press release announced the appointment of David Porter, a new Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Retail Stores. Formerly with Dreamworks Animation and Wal-mart, Porter starts his new job at Microsoft on February 16.

There's no word so far on when or where Microsoft is planning to launch the first of its new retail outlets. But the company is planning to use them to showcase Windows 7, Windows Mobile and Windows Live. According to the press release:

"Defining the time frame, locations and specifics for planned Microsoft-branded retail stores will be Porter’s first order of business. The purpose of opening these stores is to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy."

I've been very vocal in complaining about the dwindling number of retail stores where users can evaluate Windows PCs from different vendors, side-by-side. But I wasn't thinking Microsoft would throw its hat into the ring again (after a quick and short attempt back in 2001 with a single Microsoft retail store in the Sony Metreon mall in San Francisco). I don't know what I was expecting -- a group of PC makers banding together to create a chain of multivendor PC retail outlets?

I have to admit I'm doubtful Microsoft is going to be able to pull off anything as sleek and hip as Apple has with its retail stores. And launching stores in major retail areas is an expensive proposition. But I'll try and keep an open mind. Who knows: Maybe the Redmondians will find a way to one-up the Apple store, minus the attitude....

What do you think Porter and his band should -- and shouldn't -- do with the new Microsoft retail stores on tap? What would make you give a Microsoft store a try?

Topics: Apple, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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174 comments
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  • What's Microsoft going to sell?

    Windows 7. Office. Anything else? Oh. Mice. Anything else?
    frgough
    • Perhaps they will have partners...

      Such as hardware vendors
      ZDNet_replier
      • Partners?

        This sounds like Best Buy. Who would go to an MS store? What are you going to get? Are you going to go and buy a Dell? Are you going to go buy an HP? Best Buy already beats MS at this game and don't forget rock-bottom Walmart.

        MS is NOT a hardware company like Apple. Any hardware they sell at these stores will just be promoting their partners.

        Another major waste of investor money from MS. For all the MS fanboi's, just zip it. I am an investor, I don't want to see MS play games with my money. An MS store would suck. We can already go to Best Buy which IS an MS store.
        Jim4Prez
        • I'm an Investor too

          I think it is a great idea. We can always pull our money out if we don't like the going ons.
          eargasm
        • Lots of Hardware

          MS has lots of hardware... and software...

          xBox / Zune / Keyboards (some of the best) / Mice / Headsets / Cameras / and hundreds of software titles - a whole range of home software that is very good but poorly marketed..

          If I were MS I would get partners to do it or a store-within-a-store concept.. MS would NEVER recover the investment... But for marketing stuff? It's a great idea.

          ADboy
        • MS Products

          You get to buy original signed MS products at full list price
          sail4evr
    • Refrigerator Magnets . . .

      Everyone needs one, don't they ?
      Basic Logic
      • And Great Magnets they will be! (N/T)

        (n/t)
        eargasm
        • When the backing falls off the magnet

          Will we have to wait til Patch Tuesday to go in and see if they've got a fix for it or does the fact that those pieces fall apart the moment it's in use just mean the magnet's functioning properly?
          tmsbrdrs
    • New apple product

      http://www.theonion.com/content/video/apple_introduces_revolutionary
      GAXXIS
    • RE: What's Microsoft going to sell?

      Ubuntu

      ]:)
      n0neXn0ne
      • Video: Prototype store already exists

        This has been in the works and mentioned on the net already.

        Microsoft even created a marketing video about it.
        http://www.istartedsomething.com/20090113/microsoft-opens-fake-store-demo-retail/

        mikefarinha
        • I've shopped at the store in the video.

          It's called Best Buy.

          Am I wrong?
          RationalGuy
          • Yes, You Are Wrong.

            Have you seen Microsoft Surface or Photosynth demos at Best Buy?

            I didn't think so.
            mikefarinha
          • So you take a Best Buy clone ,,,

            ... mount a Microsoft Surface on the wall and all of a sudden it's somehow radically different?

            Surface looks pretty cool and all, but I think you're overestimating what impact it's going to have on your shopping experience.
            RationalGuy
          • WRONG! (N/T)

            (n/t)
            eargasm
          • Silly MS Rabbit

            dkawalec was equating the MS Store to a Best Buy store. In otherwords, same thing, different name.

            As soon as MS releases the products you mentioned they would be available at Best Buy. Get it?

            Run it by your Microsoft Thesaurus.
            No More Microsoft Software Ever!
      • Quite a bit... Not including Ubuntu

        How about Zune, accessories, online music in the store, etc,

        XBOX, games, accessories, live links

        Branded PCs, repair facility, OS, Productivity, game, utility software

        Demo their touch technology, etc etc etc...

        How about the Hardware section with mice, keyboards, joysticks etc

        Windows gaming section with the latest games for the Windows platform.

        Doesn't take much thought to see where they are going with this.
        Max_in_OH
        • "online music in the store" ???????

          "online music in the store"?

          That must be one of the daftest comments I've ever read here (and there's quite a few 'tards lurking here).

          Why would you go to a Microsoft store to purchase music "online"?

          There's a sucker born every minute...
          EarFix
      • @Max_in_OH, yeh but whose the customer???

        I mean who is this customer that wants to buy a WP7 phone and yet doesn't want to compare it with an iPhone, Android, Nokia, Samsung etc??<br><br>The XBox for example, they'd be better off selling PS3s alongside them because console lovers often buy more than one console. So it makes sense to group XBox with other consoles for the cross sales but MS can't do that.<br><br>They sell Office and corporate products along side games consoles and Zunes???? Why? Would you want to have a tech explain the complexities of some office product to you while kids make blast noises on the XBox demo units??<br><br>And the price, they can't discount, so people can't go there to get the cheapest price.<br><br>It's just a big 'what on earth'.<br><br>IMHO, they need to identify the customer who will walk in the door, take as many of the MS products you can that fit that customer, fill out the store with competitors products as needed (because you're making a store here, you have to compete) and that should be their store.<br><br>XBox sells reasonably in the US doesn't it? Can't you build a whole store aimed at XBox, related products, gaming PCs, etc. ditch all the other stuff.<br><br>Likewise business centers, ditch all the games and domestic stuff and make a proper business center!<br><br>I did a search on that Lennox Square store looking for a picture and spotted it's an Apple store site... wow, they are so wannabe Apples, they need to get a grip and play to their strengths not to Apples strengths.
        guihombre