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Microsoft To Open Retail Stores 535

chaz373 writes "CNET reports that Microsoft is going retail. In the 'Beyond Binary' blog Ina Fried reports, 'After years of brushing off the notion, Microsoft said on Thursday that it will open up its own line of retail stores. Without detailing the plans, Microsoft said it has hired David Porter, a 25-year Wal-Mart veteran, to lead the effort. Sources say that Porter's mission will be to develop the company's retail plans and that the effort is likely to start small with just a few locations.'"
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Microsoft To Open Retail Stores

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  • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imamac ( 1083405 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:18AM (#26842045)
    This should be entertaining...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:40AM (#26842303)

      Summary is misleading. Microsoft has tried retail before. [] (before apple and dell, even.)

      • It was a nice store (Score:4, Interesting)

        by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:54AM (#26843473)
        At that time the Sony metro-center was trying to be a high tech playground. It had innovative video games, a new movie theater, a theme restaurant, action figure store, and the MicroSoft software store. I stopped by there to get free email updates. I store was in the center of "Dot com land" or SoMa lofts for high tech work and living. Lots of people from Stanford and Silicon valley lived there because it was just a train ride up the pennisula, with a urban ambience. That area faded a bit after the crash.
    • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Funny)

      by JamesP ( 688957 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:56AM (#26842521)

      Microsoft: The fail is strong with this one...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MozeeToby ( 1163751 )

        Say what you want about Microsoft, but the one thing they aren't is fail. Their biggest fails to date still make more money than most companies dream of. Hated as Vista is, it still has more market share than OSX and Linux combined. Their profits improved by $8 billion from 2007-2008, even with the meltdown during the second half of 2008.

        You might be able to argue that it's marketing and social inertia, but they are not fail.

        • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Knuckles ( 8964 ) <knuckles@danti a n .org> on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:31PM (#26846903)

          Say what you want about Microsoft, but the one thing they aren't is fail. Their biggest fails to date still make more money than most companies dream of.

          Are you insane or an Astroturfer? IIRC all that makes money is Windows and Office, everything else fails. Or do you count the 4 billion or whatever it is that they lost on the Xboxes a success? Zune, anyone? Get real!

    • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Funny)

      by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:59AM (#26842557) Homepage Journal

      I wonder if the chairs will be bolted down?

      They'll sell piles of Zunes, and for the first time two people who both own Zunes will meet in some kind of weird real-life "Social" situation?

  • Following Apple (Score:4, Interesting)

    by INeededALogin ( 771371 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:20AM (#26842057) Journal
    Yes... Apple has had lot of success with its retail stores, but it already had the reputation and recognition to drive people to the stores.

    For Microsoft, I fear that they are going to be just like the Sony stores.... Better Location than the Apple store, but considerable less people in the store.
    • Re:Following Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:26AM (#26842127)
      I'm pretty skeptical myself. Why would anybody want to go into a store like that?

      "Hey guys, want to head over to the mall and check out the new version of Office?"
      "Awesome! Let's go!"

      No. The above conversation will not happen with any great frequency because Microsoft is just not sexy, they are utilitarian and mundane.
      • by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:37AM (#26842267)

        Maybe they could sell cheap leather shoes? They could bring in Bill to do his stand-up routine.

      • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:38AM (#26842279) Journal
        "Hey guys, let's do an OSS protest !"
        "Yeah, but where ?"
        "I have an idea about it..."
    • Re:Following Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TejWC ( 758299 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:37AM (#26842265)

      Half the reason why Apple made their stores was to encourage people to test drive a Mac right there. They placed most of the stores in malls so people who had other shopping to do can just hop in and try this "Mac" thing out. On top of that, they are able to repair your computer (or at least send it out for repair) right there without giving you the trouble of shipping it yourself. The apple store is half the reason why I ended up with a Mac.

      Most people are familiar with Windows so a "test drive" will not do much good. And the people who use Windows tend to be the people that end up using whatever OS is installed in their computer anyway. Microsoft is not really in the PC selling business so they can't help you with your laptop when there is a hardware problem. The only product I think the store will really push is mobile devices since they seem to think thats where a lot of money is (or at least they are scared that Linux or iPhone will grab too much of the market). They can be a "Windows Mobile Phone" store that sells phones that use WindowsCE. I can't think of anything else that would differentiate them from a "Best Buy" or "Frys".

      • Re:Following Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AvitarX ( 172628 ) <me AT brandywinehundred DOT org> on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:16AM (#26842841) Journal

        What MS could offer is:
        1) A place to buy PCs as electronics retailers are closing (No Comp USA, No Circuit City), they don't want the only retail option to be Apple Store.

        2) Guided test drive, let people use Vista, but be shown a few things. Let the first experience with virtual bouncer be an explanation from someone about how it protects them, let them know it shouldn't happen when they aren't installing new software, and shortly after they get their new computer they won't be seeing it at all.

        3) They can run it at a loss, and treat the guiding as a PR expense.

        4) Unlike other retailers they can make money on computers, since like Apple they own the OS.

        I think it is an intriguing idea for them, and if done right could help them a lot. I think the Mojave thing showed that people can like Vista when shown what new tools it has for them, but when just having it dumped upon they hated it. If they had 8 or 9 computers hi-lighting the different things you can do, people would be much warmer to it I think.

        For example, there were tons of complaints about XP vs 2000, and even 98, but I liked XP. They ability to print a bunch of photos out strait from explorer was worth the extra shard of RAM on a new computer. There were a few other things that were nice, but that was the big one.

        In Vista, I like the new start button (search by typing), the new explorer, and the new filtering. It feels like Gnome, plus KDE start button. These are things people could be shown and like (looking for a file in a big folder, type ANY part of it's name, I think I did this, if I am wrong correct me). I HATE the default theme though, and generally use the classic look.

        • Re:Following Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

          by fwarren ( 579763 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @01:28PM (#26846017) Homepage

          I think it is an intriguing idea for them, and if done right could help them a lot. I think the Mojave thing showed that people can like Vista when shown what new tools it has for them, but when just having it dumped upon they hated it.

          Keep the faith kid. From what I can tell. Mojave was someone who knew what they were doing walking through all of the things that Vista can do. That is different than end users doing it themselves. Trust me on this one. I have users on my network that need help every three moths to burn files onto a CD in Xp.

          I could have a presenter show them how easy it is. They would tell you how cool and easy XP is....Then three months later still call the help desk and ask how to burn a CD.

          Three is a difference between a rigged demo and Joe Sixpack using Vista. It took Joe Sixpack 5 years to learn where everything is at in XP. Even if it is easier in Vista, it is harder, because it is not where Joe expects it to be. It is also not called what he expects it to be called.

    • Re:Following Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:41AM (#26842323)

      Microsoft and Apple have different problems.

      Apple had a case that their products were not shown in stores.
      The Apple Ghetto Section in COMPUSA comes to mind, In the far right corner of the store with shelving arranged differently to prevent people from wondering into the area by mistake (you wanted to go to the Apple section to get there). When talking to the sales rep they will stray you away from the Apple Product and point to you a nice shiny new Compaq with Windows and say how much better that is, and give every false rumor and misconception about the apple product as possible.

      So that is the key reason for the Apple store to actually show off and highlight their product in their own store. They made an inviting environment that makes all their products look really nice, and the sales rep will talk about its strengths. (granted they will not go too far to point out any weaknesses) As well offer basic training to the people looking at the product to ease the switching anxieties.

      Microsoft has a different PR problem. Their success has trivialized their products. Even their high end software which is rather nice (if you are able to look at them threw un Fanboy/Zealot eyes) has the stigma of being sub-par home software. As well associating any and all PC problems that one has with Microsoft even if it isn't their fault. Really gives them a PR problem. Now I am not sure a retail store will fix it. Showing off the software is a much more difficult problem. It takes time to determine if you want or like the software. Vs. say a Mac which just looks cool and you feel that it can do what you want it to do. Most people felt they have been burned by Microsoft far more then people who felt burned by Apple so standard marketing will make them suspicious.

      • Bull (Score:3, Interesting)

        by huckamania ( 533052 )
        The number of people who have a positive view of Microsoft vastly outnumbers the installed user base of Apple. Most people like Microsoft, warts and all, because they can afford a PC and it has everything they need. The fact that Apple is shinier is not lost on them, it just doesn't outweigh all of the fun and power owning a modern PC connected to the internet brings. Only Apple zealots think that PC users are jealous of them. Only Linux zealots think of thrown chairs when someone mentions windows.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Just Some Guy ( 3352 )

        The Apple Ghetto Section in COMPUSA comes to mind, In the far right corner of the store with shelving arranged differently to prevent people from wondering into the area by mistake (you wanted to go to the Apple section to get there).

        We shopped at the same CompUSA? Interesting! Seriously, there was exactly one Apple-savvy guy at the one I usually went to. He looked looked like a stereotypical mafia footsoldier (greasy hair, gold chains, shirt unbuttoned) and chain smoked in front of the store when not getting pissy with customers who didn't want AppleCare (him: "You really need this extended warranty!" me: "Why? Are you saying that this computer sucks?" him: "Umm..."). The local-ish Apple Store is diametrically opposite. It's th

      • Re:Following Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Peter Simpson ( 112887 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @12:07PM (#26844729)

        "Microsoft has a different PR problem. Their success has trivialized their products. Even their high end software which is rather nice..."

        I'd say Microsoft's problem is first, that they can't design or maintain a robust, secure, desktop operating system; and second, that they continually ignore customer desires for a stable OS environment in favor of a business plan that forces upgrades.

        Which high end software are you speaking of? Word? Excel? Project? Word's user interface changes every time they do a new version. A tool shouldn't change unless it helps you do your job better. Project is insanely overpriced. It's good software, but not great. MS should concentrate on making it "great" and "affordable". Because they are no longer the only game in town (thanks to, and people don't like not having a choice.

        Several of my friends, faced with defunct laptops and the option of "Vista or nothing" on a new purchase, opted to jump to Apple instead of staying with Microsoft. This is not just one, but several of my friends and acquaintances. I think Microsoft may be in bigger trouble than they realize...

  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by internerdj ( 1319281 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:22AM (#26842087)
    I get Mac stores since they sell their image...oh, and proprietary hardware. But a specialized Microsoft store, even though I like some of their products, doesn't make sense to me. I can pick up Microsoft software at nearly anywhere already, and some of it that I don't even want comes on my computer every time I buy a new one.
  • Gee... (Score:3, Funny)

    by markbark ( 174009 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:22AM (#26842089) Homepage

    It must be another example of "Microsoft Innovation"
    I mean no other member of the computer industry has EVER tried opening brick and mortar retail spaces... oh, wait

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:24AM (#26842109)

    See all the great products that already come by default on your PC.
    If you have an Old version buy a new one... See that it doesn't work on your old PC and buy a New One with all the products you just bought is pre-installed!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by raddan ( 519638 )
      As someone who has the misfortune of having been subscribed to the MS Volume Licensing crap by the higher ups, I can say with absolute certainty that Microsoft makes a lot of software. A lot more than what comes on your PC. I get binders full of CDs in the mail on a regular basis. I have thousands of CDs. It's kind of annoying, but the idea is that you want something, you contact your rep and you already have the software. Their salespeople are usually pretty knowledgable.

      Anyway, just pulling a rand
  • by drerwk ( 695572 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:25AM (#26842117) Homepage
    Clippy will man the Super Genius Bar. And they will have Karaoke using that new tech of theirs. Don't forget the $10,000 coffee tables.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:27AM (#26842141) Journal
    To the first person who obtains, and releases into the Microsoft retail store, a dog bearing an uncanny resemblance to the horrible Windows search dog.
  • by Webcommando ( 755831 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:31AM (#26842193) Homepage Journal

    The article does touch on PC makers showcasing wares in the store. The idea of a MS store creates some questions in my mind.

    First, what PC's will be showcased? I would think the high-end systems mentioned would be a great idea. There are plenty of mid and low end systems at current electronic retailers.

    Secondly, can someone walk out with a PC? And if so, is MS going to do any service at the store? This is what the Apple store has going for it; a full service shop.

    A few people have tried with only limited success (anyone remember the Gateway stores?).

  • by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:36AM (#26842255)
    Let's face it, they'd have been mad to open shops and show people Vista. Now they have something apparantly rather better, they want to show it off to the world.
    As others have said though, I can't imagine much real reason unless they have a whole raft of new titles coming out that no-one knows about. A few years ago when they had all those multimedia titles for movies, art, musical intsruments and so on, I'd have appreciated the chance ot get hands on with a few titles but now I can't see much in their lineup that is a try-before-you-buy sort of title. It's either something you need or you don't.
  • Poor timing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thered2001 ( 1257950 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:37AM (#26842273) Journal
    With the economic downturn and stockholders angry for MS spending 'too much' on R&D, this is the *perfect* time to acquire a bunch of retail space and hire new employees!
  • Gamesoft(TM) (Score:4, Insightful)

    by soupforare ( 542403 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:41AM (#26842315)
    No way are these stores going to be less than 75% Xbox/GFW.
  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:55AM (#26842511) Homepage

    iPod is to Zune as Apple Store is to Microsoft Store. I predict it'll be an embarrassing rip off of the Apple Store that will cause no more than snickering from most people. And their customers will be nothing but MCSEs looking for a place to hang out. Should be amusing.

    The best part is that Microsoft is dumb enough to keep pouring money into a losing venture for decades...

  • by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:57AM (#26842531)

    Wow! This really takes me back! Who here over the age of 25 never pulled this one at their local 80's retailer (I was always partial to Sears, myself...):


    20 GOTO 10

    Looks like I finally have a reason to learn javascript...

  • not apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:05AM (#26842657) Homepage Journal
    Apple stores are boutiques where people come in, are greeted, browse, play, learn, get help, and maybe buy a computer on the spot, without lines. MS stores are to managed by an ex-wal mart executives. This means that customers will be screened by an older person, have all the merchandise they want out of their reach with no one to help, followed by security if they spend too much time staking out one place,have to wait in long lines, and get frisked on the way out, all to get the a good deal.

    How is this store going to work. Most customer service is done by third parties, so where will be the help desk? Computers are sold by third parties, so where will be computers? How will it be decided which brands to stock? How will the store not look like Comp USA.

    OTOH, I disagree that this is a bad time to start this. The economy is down, but MS has money. Strip center space is going to be cheap. Consumers will be looking for low prices with a big name to back the sales up. The problem is MS is not going to be abe to offer low prices without annoying it's retail partners. And consumers are not going to make a special trip just to experience the MS Store.

  • by crimperman ( 225941 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:11AM (#26842749) Homepage

    I can see it now: you walk into the store (by accident) and an assistant dressed as a paper clip appears beside you saying

    "You look like you're trying to buy a PC. Shall I ..
    * ignore all your needs and suggest one now
    * spew FUD about anything not owned by Microsoft
    * help myself to your wallet now
    * do a weird little spin and bugger off!"

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:39AM (#26843207)

    by people coming in for tech. support.
    Perhaps thats what their store will be, not selling product but support services.

  • by Zwicky ( 702757 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:49AM (#26843389)

    The year of Microsoft on the high street!

    To be honest I'm surprised they aren't setting up shop as an online retailer. I would have thought that would give them a wider reach for less outlay, but I guess they want people to play with their products. In store surfaces and all that.

    The other thing is the main impression that I came away with from the images of the concept store was, well, how dull and boring it looked. Not the sort of place I would enjoy shopping.

    Knowing Microsoft it will put its corporate salespeople on the shop floor to be all 'customer facing' who will scare away most customers by the time they have stalked their prey (they'll call that 'proactive') and introduced themselves with, "Hi! Can I help you?" (They think they are doing you a favor but it's rare I will stay long if I sense any potential for being hounded into a purchase.)

    Maybe I'm just being cynical?

    ... nah!

  • by MikeMo ( 521697 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:50AM (#26843413)
    When Apple went into retail, they got a guy from the nice Gap stores to set it up. When Microsoft does the same thing, they get a guy from WalMart. That pretty much sums up the difference between Apple and Microsoft.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DerekLyons ( 302214 )

      Yep. It shows how much Apple is really about style and sizzle, and how much Microsoft is about utility and usefulness.

  • Fatal Error (Score:3, Insightful)

    by binaryseraph ( 955557 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:04AM (#26843635)
    So does that mean the store will close down right in the middle of you trying to make a serious purchase decision?
  • by Ardeaem ( 625311 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:11AM (#26843765)
    They should sell drinks and people can test out their great software like Songsmith! It would be the most popular store in the mall.
  • What the heck? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dwiget001 ( 1073738 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:17AM (#26843881)

    It's April Fool's Day already?

  • Patience (Score:3, Funny)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:30AM (#26844097)
    Like all things Microsoft I'm going to recommend that everyone wait till version 3.0 comes out. Their microsoftSF store was opened at the height of the dot-com days in 1999 and was closed in 2001. This is version 2.0. I would at least wait until the 2nd store opens. But be warned that might be 2.1 and not 3.0. :P
  • with the cow pattern boxes?

    gateway was once dell's main competitor in the 1990s

    one of the things that did them in was their foray into retail business. colossal failure

    now they don't even sell direct anymore, no internet or phone sales. all of their retail stores are closed. and i believe they were bought by another company recently

    so if you cheer microsoft's downfall, cheer their foray into retail sales: its a boondoggle

  • Lost the plot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AaronLawrence ( 600990 ) * on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:52AM (#26844465)

    I'm fairly realistic about Microsoft usually, but it's hard to escape the impression lately that they are rudderless, drifting, and desperately trying to copy Apply who are sailing far ahead into profitable new markets with seeming ease.
    They've always had a tendency to copy the best of other people's ideas, but in the past that worked better for them, and was useful to customers because the rough edges were smooth off.
    Now Apple and Google seem to be executing well, shuffling Microsoft off to IBM-style irrelevancy.

    OK, there is still those Office and Windows cash-cows, but obviously OSX, Linux and OO are nipping at their heels; they are having to reduce prices (Windows CE is extremely cheap, they seem to lose a lot of money on it) and do new unpleasant things for them (like XP for Netbooks).

  • by Pontiac ( 135778 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @12:33PM (#26845163) Homepage

    Mu biggest fear is them stuffing some poor clerk in a 8ft tall Clippy suit and turning him loose in the mall. My worst desktop support nightmare come to life..

    On the other hand I'll finally have the chance to beat that stupid paperclip senseless..

  • I hope (Score:3, Funny)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @12:39PM (#26845249) Homepage Journal

    the pull down blue shades when they are closed.

    Tell me that wouldn't earn them some cred?

  • by fsterman ( 519061 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @12:41PM (#26845281) Homepage

    It'll be a great place to hand out OpenOffice CD's on a Sunday afternoon. I love living in Seattle.

  • Sales tax (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nobodyman ( 90587 ) on Friday February 13, 2009 @12:48PM (#26845425) Homepage

    Well shit, does this mean that I will need to pay state sales tax when I purchase Microsoft products online?

I've got a bad feeling about this.