Alright Microsoft, I guess I was wrong….

When I first saw that Microsoft was putting in a retail store three doors down from one of my local Apple Stores, I was betting it was going to be a ghost town within the first week/month. I was skeptical Microsoft and its partners had anywhere near the draw Apple does. But this monolithic store opened last Thursday to quite a fanfare.

Microsoft, in its attempt to create a frenzy on its store’s opening weekend, put on Miley Cyrus and Dave Matthews concerts to entice the hordes to flock. According to the media, Bellevue Square was the place to be this past weekend.

The Gadgeteer Kid and I went to Bellevue Square just as it opened this Sunday morning to beat the weekend/pre-Holiday crowds, get a few things, visit the Apple, MS and Lego stores, and get out before the insanity started. To my surprise, this is what the Microsoft store looked like ten minutes after the Mall opened…..crazy!!! The store might have opened before the rest of the Mall did (I should have asked), not sure.

But either way, the place was packed and full of energy. Folks were buzzing around checking everything out and many people were walking out with something in their hands (purchases).

Microsoft’s new store is very Apple like. There is no mistake their designers took many cues from the Apple Store. I do have to say, I like the added elbow room. Most of the time Apple Stores are packed to the brim and their limited square footage usually makes me feel a bit claustrophobic. But the Bellevue Microsoft Store is huge, nearly three times the space as its neighbor three doors down.

Microsoft stocked the place with the very best they have to offer. From large touch sensitive tables to Win7 smartphones to every kind of PC/laptop/netbook they could get a hold of. They even had a relatively large Kindle display as well.

For added real-time fun, there is a decently sized video game playing area setup; emulating the average family room.

As we were finishing up at Bellevue Square and were heading to our car, we went by the Microsoft Store one more time. The place was so packed, employees had already started limiting entrance and a line had formed to get in.

Bottom line is that I was a bit too harsh in my original commentary about Microsoft creating brick and mortar retail spaces. If the first week is any indicator, it looks like the Store will do alright. Being in Microsoft’s home town and very near an Apple store will most likely help their popularity, as well. The GK and I are definitely diehard Apple guys, but we too, will regularly kill time in the Microsoft Store while waiting for family members to get done shopping ;).

Posted in: News

15 comments… add one

  • Dan November 23, 2010, 9:59 am

    “There is no mistake their designers took many queues from the Apple Store.” Did they take lines of customers away from the Apple store? Perhaps, but I think you meant “cues” since you were referring to the design and appearance of the store.

    1
  • Andy November 23, 2010, 10:21 am

    Why would microsoft have a “relatively large Kindle display as well” Are they really touting Amazons e-book reader, or has the name of possibly the worlds most exciting consumer technological development to date ‘Kinect’ formally codename Natal simply escaped you?

    2
  • Dave Rees November 23, 2010, 10:22 am

    @Dan,

    Fixed and thanks.

    3
  • Faith+1 November 23, 2010, 10:25 am

    Why, exactly, would you be surprised by this? No big MS fan here, but they do have something like 5-7 times the number of customers than Apple (if you look at it through market-share). The exception being the cell phone market where the iPhone rules.

    Seems only natural that an MS store would result in lots of customers.

    4
  • CJS November 23, 2010, 12:00 pm

    @Faith+1…Nokia still rule the cell phone market. I think you mean the smartphone market…

    5
  • Faith+1 November 23, 2010, 1:14 pm

    CJS,

    Yes, you are correct.

    6
  • Maverick Bronson November 23, 2010, 3:48 pm

    While this is mildly interesting, what I find most notable is the simple realization that MS just can’t come up with an original idea. It seems like they fall over themselves with internal bickering and lackluster product releases so often, that the only time they ever have a hit is when they unabashedly copy the innovation of someone else.

    Don’t read into this that I think Apple invented retail stores; that would be silly. I just wish MS would do something original for once. It’s kind of embarrassing to watch them sniff around the floor looking for ideas to ape in order to stay even partially relevant.

    Yes, I know… 90% market share bla bla bla. You know what I’m talking about even if you won’t admit it. MS is an old man nervously trying to play tag football with the college boys and not get winded too fast or let his belly show. Balmer imagery unavoidable, sorry.

    They should devote 10 or 20 million of the billions they have to development of an advanced R&D lab, which rewards out-of-the box ideas. Think DARPA for consumer hardware/software.

    Yeah, most of the ideas will be too far-out, but you can shelve those and wait for 15 years until the technology/society catches up and then spring your developed idea on a thrilled public and a blind-sided competition.

    (oops, that would be stealing from Apple, again…)

    In any event, *that* would help them be relevant in the 21st century. This Bellevue Mall shit is just demonstrating how lumbering they are. When did the first Apple store open?

    MS’s next breakthrough idea? A single button mouse.

    7
  • Trav November 23, 2010, 9:19 pm

    Ooh I hate single button mice, go Microsoft! .. $4800 apple laptop ram burnt twice, screen lines all over it, dvd rom broken, touchpad jumpy. 2yrs after bought, 1 yr left on warranty they said did not exist. oh they did find it.. months later got a call yeah we found it but it expired. I told them about my problems way before it expired!! never buy apple again.. ever!!

    8
  • KonfusedKris November 24, 2010, 4:51 am

    Hey Bronson – I’d ease up on the coffee if I were you!
    When did Apple last do something original? What they do do is take an idea and make it work very very well. Which is exactly what Microsoft (and all big corporations do) to a greater or lesser degree. Apple and Microsoft are corporations, not religions.
    I would be delighted if a Microsoft shop opened in my City, I’d have a look round it, and the Apple shop as well.

    9
  • Dave Rees November 24, 2010, 8:50 am

    @KonfusedKris,

    I agree, there are definitely worse things than having multiple tech stores (and even a lego store) all within 100 ft of each other.

    Dave

    10
  • andix November 24, 2010, 8:51 am

    just give them a couple of weeks, until the novelty runs out. it’d be interesting to write another follow-up on this in a while, after things settle down a bit.

    11
  • Xzorter November 24, 2010, 12:47 pm

    Wow Maverick,
    Very well put ! You are defenatly a concise spinner of thought and you have summed up Microsoft’s quandary .X

    12
  • Jack November 24, 2010, 10:29 pm

    To all of you Apple fanboys, here’s a great collection you could use in your arguments.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/91lji/fuck_you_apple_it_was_totally_ok_when_you_dissed/

    Really, Apple are oh-so-innovative with their store “idea”. It like saying they were first to rent a space in a mall, and then all these Crate&Barrels and Gyborees followed.

    13
  • JT November 26, 2010, 5:05 pm

    @andix
    I think they’ll keep on going for a more than a couple of weeks. One reason people go to Apple stores to play with the hardware. I can’t think of any place that has Kinect set up for customers to try. That alone will drive people in for a while. And having Surface for customers to play with will help. Of course the crowds will settle down since people can buy MS products almost everywhere. Apple products aren’t available everywhere and some places that sell the products don’t have demo models (i.e. Target) so Apple stores will always draw a crowd.

    14
  • Maverick Bronson December 3, 2010, 10:00 pm

    @Jack,

    Read my post again. Especially the first sentence of the second paragraph. Your reading comprehension needs a boost.

    15

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