technology04 Aug 2013 04:00 pm

When I was picking up my wife’s iMac computer from the Apple store in Woodfield Mall earlier this week, I noticed the Microsoft had opened a Microsoft store literally one floor below the Apple store.  When you walk to the apple store, you can see the Microsoft store.

Microsoft continues to play catchup to the Apple merchandising model.  The value proposition at the Apple store is quite clear.  They employee “genius” employees at the “genius bar” who appear to know everything about the technology that they are selling.  When I brought my son’s macbook pro into the shop to replace the monitor that got broken, i had them hook up my macbook pro to their diagnostics to check the machine out.  After upgrading to the latest version of MacOS, my macbook pro was getting a bit pokey and I wanted to upgrade the memory.  When I asked about Apple performing the upgrade, they refused.  They only provide like kind repairs to their hardware to ensure that changing the configuration will not introduce any level of incompatibility  that could impact the customer experience.  Thats a very smart move on the part of apple.  The “genius” recommend that I purchase the memory from Newegg, and install it if I wanted to do the upgrade, which I did, since I’m comfortable taking apart computers and understood the risk by doing so.  But, for mom and pop consumer, if they did foray down the path of upgrading their mac computer themselves, they could certainly not hold apple accountable for any type of negative experience associated with the upgrade.

Microsoft has a different issue at their stores.  Outside of the surface, there are all manor of hardware vendors that can provide platforms for the Microsoft operating system, so they will never have the granular level of control that Apple has over their desktops, laptops and servers.

The Microsoft store also has a large section devoted to the Xbox.  I was fascinated how Microsoft completely blew the announcement of the new Xbox that will be coming out by the end of the year.  When I asked my Son if he wanted the new Xbox, he told me no, he did not, because he and his friends did not like the way that Microsoft was setting up the new Xbox, requiring them to connect to the Internet every day, and not being able to buy used games at Gamestop.  You can really consider your product launch a public relations nightmare when a 14 year old and his friends believe that you screwed up your new product launch to the point that Microsoft revised their launch approach for the new Xbox.

Otherwise, the MIcrosoft store is snazzy.  Its a pretty amusing marketing touch to put the new Microsoft stores within spitting distance of the Apple store, which I expect is happening around the country as they build out their new stores.

I haven’t had the opportunity to speak with a Microsoft person at the Microsoft store as of yet, so I can’t comment on the level of expertise that the people working their posses.

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