Microsoft Becoming Apple With First Retail Store, Online PC Sales

23 Comments

microsoftstoreTalk about biting someone else’s style. Not only is Microsoft (s msft) trying to add some cool factor to its brand using celebrity influence, a game which Apple (s aapl) 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 (s hpq), Acer, Dell (s dell), Lenovo and Sony (s sne), 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.

23 Comments

SofaKingDOM

ALSO: One more thing:

Just because MS opens a store, doesn’t mean that they are going to stop making / supporting your precious APPLE machines. So unruffle those panties and stop sobbing, you guys are like a bunch of kindergartners with this thread.
I would just like to add my two cents to stir this madness!~!!!

SofaKingDOM

BTW this thread is a total bash on PC…
Get a life journalist, this isn’t a football game.

Astrochimp

@Vanni:
first, you’re drinking the Kool-Aid from Apple that says that Microsoft is still shipping the same ‘ol stuff. No, they’re not; the core of their OS has changed profoundly since Windows 98, but the brilliant “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads deny this. It’s just much easier for today’s Apple product to compete against what Microsoft was shipping 10 years ago.

Your list of “10 worst” are all in the distant past, by standards of software. Give me a more recent example. If Apple had that market share back then, they would have been hit just as hard.

… and don’t tell me about Conficker. I know. Microsoft patched a vulnerability in October 2008, and Conficker appeared in November 2008, reverse-engineered from the patch out of Microsoft. Only idiots who don’t patch (i.e. they changed the default settings) were affected.

By your logic, my machine should be crawling with worms and spewing SPAM emails. But, it’s not, and never was.

@Vanni: I accept your challenge for TWO (2) sources that agree with me. Here they are:

1. Look up Charlie Miller. Here’ a good quote: “I’ve spent a lot of my research time on Macs because I like them and they also happen to be pretty easy to break!”

2. Macworld, just over a year ago, 10/8/2008: http://www.macworld.com/article/135978/mac_security.html
“Technically, Macs are not inherently more secure than Windows PCs—and by some measures, they are definitely less so. Over the past five years, Microsoft has made huge security improvements to Windows, and Apple now lags behind Microsoft in implementing library randomization, data execution protection, and other advanced security features.”

I feel like I’m fighting the tide with a spoon: To quote Joseph Goebbels (Nazi propoganda minister) “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Read the rest of the quote and substitute “Apple Inc.” for “the State” and you’ve got the picture.

I’m totally done with this thread. If you guys can’t learn by now, you never will.

Astrochimp

@Vanni:
On general Mac vulnerability:
http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=2941
Trojan from 2007:
http://www.wired.com/politics/security/news/2007/11/mac_trojan
On protecting yourself on a Mac:
http://www.macsmarts.com/?p=115
http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/30265
http://www.dnschanger.com/
If you use a Mac, I’d recommend keeping up with this site:
http://www.securemac.com/
Apple Inc. you can’t trust to keep you secure. They’d rather lie about it; it’s easier, better for selling their very expensive hardware, and they do it well.

I only spent two minutes digging. With more time I could find more.

Now, I expect to hear all sorts of whining and excuses from the Mac faithful…

Astrochimp

OK, Darth Vader, if you think (like many Mac users have been led to believe) that Macs are absolutely secure, then you need some education. Perfect security is impossible, and Mac malware exists in the wild. Apple does an amazing job pulling the woolly, though :( to make people think this isn’t true.

Oh, yes, Apple is based on a Unix! Yes, that makes it more secure than Windows 98. Granted.

Vanni

AstroChimp: ” 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.”

May we have the source for this? Please provide us with the particular Malware you are referring to?

Kendall Tawes

To be honest Vanni there is Malware for Mac OS but the simple fact is since it is less prevalent Apple hasn’t needed to react as much as Microsoft. And as I said before Microsoft took years to take security seriously despite having an OS more prone to attack than any other in history.

Apple is starting to gear up its security though. In Snow Leopard there is a new technology that cross references files downloaded from the internet with a known vulnerability list but as it is new there are only two definitions on the list. If Microsoft did something as simple as that in 1997 when Microsoft’s malware was roughly on par with what Apple has now Microsoft would have been prepared for the barrage of viruses, spyware and general malware released throughout this decade. Frankly by the time Microsoft started doing something even close it was early 2004 when Microsoft bought a spyware detector and removal tool from another company, released it as a free beta and then went on to not develop it further for a couple of years. If Apple keeps on track with their current plans Mac OS will continue to have less attackers and less holes in their code to attack.

Sure Microsoft is serious about security now but that is like being serious about fixing your boat after it has been sinking for 2 hours.

Astrochimp

@Kendall: true, Windows 9.x (including Windows ME) was awful for security. But, newer versions of Windows have been totally rewritten.

Windows XP SP2 was when Microsoft overtook Mac OSX in security, and Microsoft is way ahead of Apple now.

Apple has the advantage of small market share, but that’s not a kind of security. If Apple suddenly were to go to 50% market share, blackhats would be all over Apple.

Vanni

@astrochimp:

“Windows XP SP2 was when Microsoft overtook Mac OSX in security, and Microsoft is way ahead of Apple now.”

find me two sources who would even mildly agree with that statement.

Astrochimp

A place called “reality.”

Mac religion is unbecoming to otherwise intelligent people.

Astrochimp

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.

Kendall Tawes

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.

Rob

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.

Vanni

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

Galley

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).

Matt

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.

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