Introducing the fake Microsoft Store

Microsoft today unveiled it's "Retail Experience Center".

The experience center is like a real Microsoft store but unfortunately it's fake. This store acts, feels and functions like a real store and was built at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, WA (USA). The Retail Experience Center is a private, 20,000-square-foot facility housing a fully functioning, interactive store environment, from point of service to receiving dock. The Retail Experience Center is also part of Microsoft's larger effort to establish a research facility to better understand and address how consumers are experiencing the Windows brand at retail as they select and purchase PCs. Acting as a test facility, it will give the retail industry an opportunity to provide feedback that can directly influence future Microsoft products and how it sells to consumers.

"Customers have told us they want Microsoft to play a more active role in their technology experiences, by helping direct them to the specific products, services and technologies that will most benefit their unique needs," said Brad Brooks, corporate vice president for Windows Consumer Product Marketing at Microsoft.

Analysts have often called on Microsoft to open a store to compete with Apple's retail outlets in the US and Europe. Perhaps this is Microsoft's way of dipping its feet into the idea of opening up retail stores?

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I think it warrants a separate thread ... after all the careful planning that went into the store why oh why are there Apple TV's hiding in the corner there?

Errm... why are there Apple TV machines for sale? Load up the Photosynth, go to grid view rather than 3D and look at the bottom row far right end ...

akersj said,
Errm... why are there Apple TV machines for sale? Load up the Photosynth, go to grid view rather than 3D and look at the bottom row far right end ...

More and more Apple products are showing up in these MS promos. What gives?

if you don't mind, I'll ask about this in a thread.

So, let me get this right, they have created a store with fake items in it, in a 20,000ft square building at their headquarters. Why not just spend that little bit extra and make it real? The shop is there, the products are not.

I imagine it's much like Wal-Mart who also has a "fake" store setup so they can optimize it's layout and product placement. All Wal-Marts are built and run modeling the "fake" store. When Microsoft is ready to go live with their store they will know exactly how to lay it out because they've done their homework.

IMO, the problem right now is that Microsoft ends up getting the blame for OEM decisions to fill cheap PCs with ****ty add-on applications. That sparkly first-boot experience is nowhere near as important as the $1.74 in kickbacks they get for installing Crapo Toolbar With Irritation Feature.

What's surprising is that customers don't find this a turn-off, and seek out other brands for their next PC after finding their new machines middling in performance (I'd bet that a well-optimized Athlon XP or mid-range P4 could actually put together a snappier first-boot experience than a bloatware-laden Core 2 or Phenom).

Sadly, from a legal perspective, MS can't even lean on OEMs to lay off on it, lest someone scream "monopoly".

What I'd love to see is simple: If you're giving us the recovery disc/partition, give it to us with a menu to de-select each feature you've installed-- right down to a bare Windows install if you so desire.


A Microsoft Store would give Microsoft an opportunity to showcase it's software on systems that are equipped to handle it. Of course, other manufacturers make great systems but a lot don't and who ends up looking bad? The guys who made the OS, not the guys who put ultra low-end crap together and called it a computer.

Too add to my comment, along with opening up a chain of retail stores, Microsoft could also consider making their own PC monitor and tower (or all in one system). One advantage to this is that people would be getting both their OS and hardware from the same company so that when a support issue comes up, the blame game doesn't have to go back and forth between who's at fault for a problem (Windows or the other manufacturer's hardware).

But that's not to say electronic stores can't continue selling other PC brands. Competition is good after all. What I stated above would make sense if this were a Microsoft store after all.

They should also offer services similar to what Apple does at their store (i.e. A Genius Bar, One to One training, Workshops, etc)

win7 is not what microsoft is looking for to change face....if they want to create hype they better come up with something better. (i have win7 beta)

in all honesty the only feautres that are good about win7 is the new explorer and gadgets, as well as the reduced uac.


ugly taskbar, thumbnail previews that really have no use ,

njlouch said,
Well, that's your opinion. Not the opinion of the multi-million dollar comapny with a substantial RnD dept...

Who is shown up time and time again by a smaller, more visionary competitor.

Judging by what's come out of Redmond over the past couple of years, I'd say Bryce is just as valid an authority on the subject as anyone else.

LTD please, you make me laugh so hard I almost spit coffee on my monitor!

Judging by the topic of this discussion I'd say Bryce hasn't read it. Let's stay ON the topic, shall we?

WooHoo!!! said,
They should do it. People need to see what a non bloated Microsoft OS is like. They need to see that a Zune and Zune software is better than a standard iPod and iTunes. Show that Xbox has other features other than disc games. The good hardware from Microsoft themselves and partners. Win.

He does have a point-- Recently a friend brought me a Pc that from Dell which booted in just a little over 2min. Yes you heard me right- and this was not no cheap system. So we reinstalled Vista applied the service Pack and Loaded up Drivers-- Now boots in under 40 seconds. (This is a major improvement).

Though With the Economy in such a downfall as it is now- Could be possible if they could wrangle in some other names to exist in the store to showcase their products as well. (Alienware as an example.) Not to mention if Microsoft would have Kiosks in the store for rating Opinions on the product line could draw more from the Usability statistics then anything else. Though I can see how Apple would have gripes about opening a store such as this- I am not a Microsoft Fan Boy or an Apple Fanboy--- I walked into an apple store and the people working there took about 20min before they even realized I was in the store (they were too engrossed in their own conversation to even bother to help me). About the time the employee came to help me I had already picked out the item I wanted and was headed to the register. Sad news though I returned the item 3 days later because I found it cheaper at Walmart. (and they didn't want to pricematch).

To be honest when I go in a shop If I want help I'll ask for it, Id prefer it if no-one came and pestered me for 20 minutes as long as they were there to ask in the event I needed them.

Majesticmerc said,
So do Microsoft.

lol, yeah, stack all those mice, keyboards, joysticks up along with the copies of Windows and Office. It won't look odd at all compared to a store with copies of OS X, Office for Mac, these peripherals, monitors, and actual computers.

I would love it if Microsoft opened up their own store. Something I would definitely go to buy products from (if they were cheaper of course :P )

i have been to the microsoft employee store in seattle a few times. its well cheap but not that much to write home about. only had a handful of xbox games a but loads of software and shirts...

Skullpture said,
Looks great, but really... is Microsoft jealous of Apple's success with their Apple Stores?

I'd dobut it. When Windows Vista is almost on every corner where a mall or tech store is at... they don't have to worry about dealing with an Apple store every couple hundred miles.

It looks like an Apple store. I don't mean that in a bad way at all, I'm not saying it's a copy, but iit has that feel of "everything is here", everything "just works", and I haven't even seen it in real life. Apple has perfected the store for their product line, imo, and Microsoft has a similar solution here (of course, despite being similar in many ways, Microsoft provides a different type of product line, obviously).

If only they were to really launch a Microsoft store like this... people could get excited about using Windows again, like I am about Windows 7 (most of you may know I'm an Apple fanboy )

Microsoft should definitely open up their own retail stores to compete with Apple's current stores. There's a lot of potential for this too.

Now that Vista is on the outs, this would be a good time to ramp up excitement for Win7 and push other products like Live and Zune. I welcome the idea .. however this is other god awful long name. Is "Microsoft Store" too simple for MS techies to accept?

The REC could be a blueprint for Microsoft kiosks in retail stores (such as BB), as the Apple Store is actually patterned on the older retail kiosks at places like Egghead (remember, the Apple Stores didn't really take off until Egghead croaked). Retail outlets like BB and Staples already have sub-kiosks based around certain Microsoft products (peripherals, XBOX, Office, Windows, etc.), why not an all-inclusive separate subsection devoted to Microsoft? (Or is it that folks don't really want an idea of the length and breadth of Microsoft's product line?)

They should do it. People need to see what a non bloated Microsoft OS is like. They need to see that a Zune and Zune software is better than a standard iPod and iTunes. Show that Xbox has other features other than disc games. The good hardware from Microsoft themselves and partners. Win.