Talk about biting someone else’s style. Not only is Microsoft trying to add some cool factor to its brand using celebrity influence, a game which Apple has long had in the bag, now it’s also opened its first official brick-and-mortar retail store, and it even just […]

microsoftstoreTalk about biting someone else’s style. Not only is Microsoft trying to add some cool factor to its brand using celebrity influence, a game which Apple has long had in the bag, now it’s also opened its first official brick-and-mortar retail store, and it even just began offering PC hardware for sale via its online store. Next thing you know, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will be wearing black turtlenecks.

A revamp of the web site is part of the Windows 7 launch campaign, and it includes a brand new store that stocks more than just software. You can now purchase a range of Windows 7-toting computers from HP, Acer, Dell, Lenovo and Sony, which are the real heavy-hitters in the PC arena. You can also pick up a single desktop, a Lenovo A600 all-in-one. Selection seems slim, but Microsoft is being a good copycat and not overwhelming consumers with an overabundance of choice.

All of the computers available on Microsoft’s web site come in stock configurations only, with no customization options beyond the ability to choose a color on select models. Users looking for more in the way of upgrades should still continue onto the manufacturer’s web site to order their machine, but Microsoft isn’t playing to that crowd. Instead, it’s aiming at first-time buyers or people with little to no computer expertise who just want the buying process to be as simple as possible.

And if you’re not too keen on the fancy new Internets, you can always take a trip down to Scottsdale, Ariz., where Microsoft today opened its first retail store. Here’s Microsoft’s own description of what it’s like, since I’m a little out of reach of the Scottsdale area:

As soon as you enter the store, there are laptops on large cedar tables, with seating so shoppers can sit and tinker. The walls are lined with giant LCD screens that envelop the space with landscapes and product images designed to create interest and spark curiosity. Below the images, stylish all-in-one PCs are set up with Zunes, Xboxes, headphones and widescreen displays, showing how all the items work together to create a multimedia experience.

Toward the back are laptop bags and an array of software titles before you turn the corner and reach a veritable mecca for Xbox enthusiasts — a gaming zone featuring a 94-inch widescreen, with immersive sound, seating and an array of controllers to play with.

Sounds like the whole premise is designed more around showing, rather than selling, as early speculation suggested. Microsoft is clearly pushing the experience, rather than trying to sell the component parts. I’d say something snarky about how this points to a lack of imagination on the part of your average PC customer, but being Mac users, I’m sure we can all come up with much more creative snark on our own.

All of this image and distribution re-imagining on Microsoft’s part is great news for one company: Apple. There’s no better sign that you have your main competitor on the ropes than when it resorts to parroting your moves. All Apple needs to do is continue to set the trend, and watch as Microsoft tries to follow it.

  1. Microsoft copies other people’s ideas, that’s so them >_>

  2. My memories of computer showrooms selling Window’s PC’s, were blue screens of death, dos prompts because there was a loading error, frozen machines, machines locked out requiring passwords, etc. Why does the description of what they are trying to do make me think that it will be a complete technical failure because Window’s machines always have errors.

  3. I’ll be visiting my Dad in Scottsdale in Feb. I’m looking forward to going to the Microsoft Store and laughing (if it’s still open by then).

  4. same old same old for MS. They have never Innovated in their life and now they are again in full bore _copy_ Mode! Ballmer has no shame

  5. [...] Microsoft Becoming Apple With First Retail Store, Online PC Sales [...]

  6. I can’t see how this makes sense for MS. In their fourth quarter results Apple had gross margins of 36% – enough to pay the rent on high-end locations. What kind of margins is MS going to have selling other people’s hardware? I suppose they’ll sell copies of Windows 7 and Word (which do have nice margins), but those bring in a lot less moola than a MacBook Pro…

    I suspect they decided they needed “face” time with customers, whatever the cost.

    What I can’t figure out, either, is the crowds in the Apple Stores. Every time I go past the place, it’s packed. Sure, I go in a couple of times a year to pick up some accessory (and, once, to pick up a new Mac), but there must be people out there who go to the Apple Store all the time, just for the fun of it. Weird.

  7. How dare a company open a physical store selling their goods! =P

  8. Next, for the good of consumers, Apple needs to imitate Microsoft:

    1. Get serious about security. Apple is years behind the curve.

    2. Stop hurting consumers by lying to them, about how secure Apple machines supposedly are. This makes consumer complacent, and vulnerable to the malware that is out there now.

    3. License their OS to 3rd-party computer manufacturers. That would give consumers choices that they don’t have now – but it would be the death of Apple as we know it. They’re a hardware company more than a software company.

    1. Kendall Tawes Monday, October 26, 2009

      1. Microsoft took years to start getting serious about security. I had ME, I know first hand.

      2. Have you heard Microsoft’s pitches before. Half of those are exaggerations too. Sure Macs can get malware but compared to what’s available for Windows it is nothing.

      3. Yeah license their OS. That will not end badly. Do you even remember the 90’s? Well perhaps you do as many people forgot Apple existed until the iMac came out. In case you don’t remember licensing Mac OS nearly killed Apple and made them have to turn to Microsoft for help. The days of OS licensing is one of the darkest days of Apple’s history and even if things could be different now (they wouldn’t) Apple will never do that again.

  9. what planet you fly down from??

  10. A place called “reality.”

    Mac religion is unbecoming to otherwise intelligent people.


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