Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yes, There Really Are Real Microsoft Stores

As of this writing there are seven honest-to-goodness, tangible, non-virtual places you actually can walk into: Microsoft Stores -- not to be confused with a part of the corporation's web site.

Dense me, I had no idea Bill Gates' little start-up had graduated from bits and pixels to bricks and mortar until last month, when a store opened not far from its Redmond headquarters in Bellevue's classy Bellevue Square shopping mall. It's the latest one: in 2009 stores opened in Scottsdale and Mission Viejo. This year others opened in: Lone Tree, Colorado; San Diego; Oak Brook, Illinois; and Bloomington, Minnesota -- the last two just before the one in Bellevue.

The likely reason why I wasn't aware of Microsoft's retail push is that I've been drifting away from Windows-based computers to Macs and only knew about Apple Stores, a very handy resource.

Since a Microsoft Store might be coming to your neck of the woods, I thought I'd show you what you might find on that happy day. Here are some photos I took at Bellevue Square:

Looks a lot like an Apple Store, doesn't it?

The layout is similar -- tables with computers and gadgets that use Microsoft software (they are for sale, too), wall racks of software packages and peripheral equipment such are cables and mice, and there's even a counter near the rear where one can get technical advice.

Moveover, the place was jumping when I gave it a walk-through; even busier than the smaller, usually jammed Apple Store a few doors down the mall. Could this have been because the whole mall was hopping thanks to Christmas shoppers? Was it the store's novelty? Might it have been due to the fact that the Seattle area is Microsoft's home turf?

Beats me.

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