A trip to the Microsoft Store

Today instead of stepping into the Apple Store on Stockton St, I decided to walk past it and head to look for the Microsoft Store. It is inside the Westfield San Francisco mall. There are plenty of signs to tell you its next to Bloomingdales on the 2nd floor. 

I finally reach the store and its bright. There’s lots of light to ensure that the place is bright. It reminds me very much of an Apple Store – the clothing worn by staff look like I stepped into an Apple Store. The layout is very similar as well.

Staff are aplenty. They are very eager to help you. People are also aplenty. Yes — many people are interested in getting their hands on devices.

I played with a Surface RT with Windows. My pod had a Touch Cover. I tried typing coherently but it seems that every substantial sentence had about one or two errors. Considering the Type Cover isn’t far off in terms of price, I don’t know who will buy the Touch Cover. It takes a little while to get used to the Metro interface, but for some reason, you get a stock Windows look & feel when its time to launch applications like Word. Hmm. This isn’t a tablet. This isn’t a laptop. It’s some kind of hybrid. I’m not so sure, considering I’ve been using “modern” tablets since the iPad first came out.

Then I moved over to a laptop. This was one made by Asus. I saw a stylus next to it, so I tried touching the screen. A kind store employee told me that this particular laptop/tablet hybrid was weird, and closed the lid, only to reveal the tablet at the back of the regular screen. That was touch screen and you could use the stylus or your finger. What an odd hybrid!

I went back to the Surface RT with Windows to see the store employee demoing it to two people. When asked what they used at home, they said they had a MacBook Pro. Oops. The employee could have done a better job at understanding what the Finder, etc. was all about, but he had no clue about the Mac. Which makes it really hard to sell to switchers, especially if you’re selling the Surface RT with Windows as a laptop replacement! During the demo, he tried to show how cool the augmented reality maps were to work, but when he started moving it around and turning, the display didn’t turn, so the demo failed. Poor chap.

There were many devices and so many devices that are iMac lookalikes. I am impressed by all the makers of devices. There are other things for sale, like accessories. A small corner for Nokia exists too – to showcase their phones.

I saw many people checking their emails, doing things that they would do at a cybercafe. I wonder if they were treating it like a cybercafe?

A few takeaways:

  1. Real estate matters. Location, location, location. Apple is at street level. The Microsoft Store needs to tell you how to find it (inside Westfield, next to Bloomingdales on the 2nd floor).
  2. Teach the staff what the Mac is all about. It will help sell to switchers.
  3. Make sure canned demos exist. There’s nothing like a failing demo when you try to sell something.
  4. I didn’t check to see if there’s free WiFi in the store, but if there isn’t, make sure its like the Apple Store – this is one reliable thing you can find in any Apple store.