Microsoft’s New Retail Experience

This past Thursday, October 22nd, Microsoft opened its first retail store in Scottsdale, Arizona. Fortunately for me, I live in Scottsdale, so I decided to make a trip over to the new Microsoft Store to see what it was all about.

I must say that I am impressed. When I walked into the store I was greeted by several store employees, and was given a special souvenir, a Bing t-shirt.

The store was laid out into multiple zones, and each featuring a different category of PC, from low-cost netbooks, all the way to the super expensive desktop replacement notebooks. Along one wall there were multiple XBox 360s and the screens for these consoles were projected through the walls on the sides of the store in stunning high-definition. Also featured were 4 Microsoft Surface tables, focusing on different aspects of the Microsoft experience.

Directly in the back of the store is the Microsoft Theatre, where there are presentations on Windows 7, Zune, Windows Phone, Office, and Windows Live. I sat in on a presentation about Windows 7, and I was impressed by the breadth and depth of the presenter. He gave an excellent presentation and all participants walked away to purchase either a new PC with Windows 7, or copies of Windows 7 itself.

Microsoft also offers the Microsoft Answers service, where customers can book 30 minute appointments to get technical support or just some questions that they have answered.

For all PCs sold in the store, they come with Microsoft’s new Signature service. According to Microsoft’s own literature, Signature is described as a “uniquely enjoyable experience.” As part of Microsoft Signature, each new PC comes with Windows Live Essentials, Zune music software, Microsoft Security Essentials, and a store employee helps each customer when they buy a new PC by setting up their PC and walking them through some of the features of Windows 7.

Microsoft also offers other services, which I will detail in another post.

Being as this is Microsoft’s first foray into the retail space on its own, I am going to have to give them a 9 out of 10 for their efforts. (1 point loss due to no literature and no demo setup next to either of the HP MediaSmart Servers on display.)

And now, I will leave you with some pictures of my trip to the new Microsoft Store.

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