Microsoft opens fake store to demo utopian retail experience; begs question why not open a real store

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What would you do with 20,000 square foot (approx. 1,900 square meter) of real-estate? Would you make the most of it and build a store to sell something? Or would you build a fake store that looks like a real store, functions like a real store, but isn’t actually a store? I’ll give you some time to think about it while I tell you about what Microsoft did.

msstoreRumors of this mystical place has been floating around in the past year or so but just recently Microsoft has published extensive video and photos from the Microsoft Retail Experience Center as part of their vision for a technology-enabled retail experience. It is said the facility is a fully-functional store from real checkouts to a real loading dock, all but lacking one but important thing, real customers.

It’s great Microsoft has the skill to design, build and operate a “real” Microsoft store – which is what everyone has been asking for and doesn’t look half bad I must admit – but it’s a bit of a bummer there’s no apparent way for anyone in the general public to shop there. There’s no phone number, no address and even the emergency exits are painted with a faux-background representing a car-park.

I have just one simple question, if this store is as functional as Microsoft tout it to be, then why not build a car-park, some real doors and just call it “open for business”?

Until then, enjoy the pictures and this virtual Photosynth tour.

79 insightful thoughts

  1. I was shopping for a new monitor and I went to: Best Buy, Staples and Circuit City.

    In all 3 places, it was depressing. The monitor areas looks disorganized and some were missing the price tag stickers or had dust on them, etc.

    Such a sad state of affairs ompared to the Mac Store, which is well lit, organized, etc.

    On the other hand, I can’t stand the mac store due to the customers that go there. That is a topic for another day.

    1. “I can’t stand the mac store due to the customers that go there.”

      Weren’t you one of them?

      …that’s really pathetic—could you say anything more senseless. that’s never going to be a topic for another day!

  2. It would be so awesome if Microsoft would open stores like this to the public everywhere. That way people would have a place to try out the latest versions of Windows, Windows Live, Office, the Xbox, and Games for Windows. They could also ask the “Windows Gurus” questions and, ultimately, buy stuff.

  3. Very neatly done! MS has made a tactical turn on the rollout for Windows7, this is an early look at a new image makeover. I am using Windows7 beta1 right now and so far so good. After install updates of early version drivers, I am pleased that all my hardware is up and the operating system is stable. The OEM vendors should get their drivers well tested before official release and software that now runs on Vista should not be a pain to port to Windows7. This could be the operating system that may get businesses and users back into their comfort zone…

  4. Might be reading just a little to much in to this, but the I’m A PC dude in the assisted selling picture helping that hottie at what looks like a HP TouchSmart PC is working on a phone that I have not seen before. Is this possibly a Zune Phone? Also interesting that the ceiling fixture that says Mobile Phones is placed very, very close to the Zune area. Hmm. Maybe reading too much in to this, once again, but interesting speculation nonetheless.

  5. Patience, I say!

    Most businesses like Kmart, Target, and – yes – Apple build “concept” stores before they start rolling them out en masse. What Redmond is doing here isn’t new, but could be the start of something bigger.

    I mean, why not toss out the “I’m a PC” kiosks in some strip malls and replace them with nice stores like this? It’d be a better way of selling Microsoft software to families and individuals, and… hey, quite Apple Store ish, but not in a bad way.

    Now, I think what MS needs to work on is their language. Too many buzzwords for the MS savvy even a few seconds into this video. I know this is a great way to sell to the enterprise, but mainstream casual consumers are going to tune you out within five seconds if you try talking to them this way.

    “Microsoft Retail Experience Center” sounds awkward. How about “Shop Microsoft”, “MS One Stop Shop”, “The PC Place”, “Windows Experience”, “Planet PC”, “Software Shoppe”? Any one of those would be an improvement over the high and mighty but clumsy sounding “Retail Experience Center”.

  6. Doesn’t beat “IE Desktop Online Web Browser Live Professional Ultimate Edition for the Internet” 🙂

    On-topic, those curves and use of colors are superbly neat. With a store that big, it looks like a tricked-out Best Buy! Wonder if they’d shell out the money for a large-scale operation such as this, though.

  7. WOW I would so love to go shopping at the Microsoft Store. I don’t believe this is just a fake ad thing, I agree with what “Nicholas Bonsack” said, I do think this is a test of a soon to be real store, or else why bother right, or why haven`t they done this before. I really think Microsoft is picking up speed with their products release times and will be opening actual Microsoft Stores soon. And it is so much better then an Apple Store, because they only have Apple things, but Microsoft can have Dell, HP, Asus, even Sony etc…. From desktops, to Xbox360s, to cell phones the list keeps going, this would be amazing, wow I`m starting to drool. I do think they will pick a nicer name.
    I’m A PC ‘by Microsoft’
    The Microsoft Store
    Microsoft Live
    The PC Experience
    The Were Not As Insecure Like Apple So We Won’t Insult The Competition – hmm too long maybe haha

    It would have to be relatable to the pc, 360 and cellular devices, so just Microsoft Store or similar would be the right choice.

    What ever it’s going to be, it’ll be epic and a world wide store within one year, okay Microsoft you listening 🙂

  8. Oh come on…
    Long, you live in Australia – this would be SUCH an improvement over places like Harvey Norman. Especially if the people running it always kept it this clean and WOW looking.

    @Toph: Ditto!

  9. @ RL- there’s a nice empty space where I live in Hyannis, MA…was gonna be a circut city… Would be a perfect spot too.
    Anyways, I can see it now. “The Microsoft Loft (TM): Your Money, Our Store; Serving the United States and the World for more than a Decade.” Selling a wide variety of computer products. Beat that Apple.

  10. Couple things here. Microsoft does have stores of it’s own, but they’re on campus stores. And secondly, I get the picture that this is more for partner evangelism. Talking with established retail stores about ways to improve the experience and at the same time, improve sales of Microsoft stuff. It reminds me of a lot of those home of the future things that Microsoft does that not only deal with their own software and hardware, but with partner companies who will make the majority of the hardware people will use.

  11. lol is that what a MicroSuck Fail Store would look like… come experience the shity products we release, tailored for the average nub (because its just so damn easy to do)… somehow we are still in business, but that’s thanks to you guys for all being stupid.

  12. “Microsoft guru”, ha! Yeah I can do that job, — I already know the line I will recite the most. “I’m afraid we can’t help you because that’s a hardware issue, please contact the manufacturer of your PC.”

    Before you open a dedicated store, you first have to have dedicated products that people will to gout of their way to check out in your store. Gateway already tried selling Microsoft products. How well did that go? What a joke.

    Hey Microsoft! Fix the product. The rest is easy.

  13. @ microsuck Tool

    Keep your flame bait to yourself you idiot dont be mad because Microsoft products are extremely cheaper than crapple. I dont know what idiot in their right mind would pay 2800$ for a 17inch mac book pro let alone 4500$ for a Mac Pro tower that I can build from the same hardware at below the 800$ mark. Get over yourself and stop wasting your money on apple..

  14. ha ha ha ha….M$ and there oddness, things like this shouldnt be allowed tbh, it not only gives customers the wrong idea (by falsifying info, and making them believe MS has an actual store) but it invaildates Microsofts intentions, most people dont wanna see fake crap or fluff like this, hell i feel as though id have better chances of seeing a Jackalope or a Unicorn then seeing anything like this come to light…

    they should have named it The “Concepts that never come to light” store lol

    and like Long stated the only thing stopping them from doing this is the “open for business” sign on the door, i think its a great idea, but they are going about it the wrong way if they intend on opening it as a store, or this could just be another opportunity for MS to brag about the things they do, which never see they light of day….we’ve seen lots of that, huh?


  15. Well, this isn’t surprising since Microsoft is kind of moving into a ‘Dell Pre-2007 Style’…. And I’d be happy to see it somewhere in New York and/or New Jersey since those are the States that I can go in less than an Hour… Apple and Sony prepare, you’ve got a rival here! :D!

  16. @MircoSuck Experience: Name me five so called noobie products with 2 reasons backing up each product. And then will I take you seriously.

  17. haha how about you give me 5 so called great MS products and list 2 reasons as to why they are so great, and I’ll rip those suckers apart, just about everything that comes out of Microsuck has some area of major FAIL about it! Only nubs don’t seem to spot poor design and crap improvements very well.

  18. Would be good for MS to have a store like the apple one in Sydney

    Except if ordinary people went to the MS store, then the Mac store, where do you think people are going to feel comfortable?

  19. It’s not uncommon for companies to build this sort of demo setup – HP has something similar, and I was once shown around a fake shopping center, home and office that BT built. I’ve even been a fake hospital ward at one company.

    This isn’t meant to show what a store selling Microsoft stuff would be like, they’re to show what an MS *powered* store would be like. How having biztalk tie together all the different processes etc would work, how wireless PDA’s could be used etc. Retail is a huge market and these fake stores are built to demo the technology available to power them.

  20. Heh, what is with the kiddie section here? Spelling Microsoft with a “$”? What is this, 1992? Nub/noob/etc? I feel like I ended up at 4chan or something. These are the worst trolls I’ve ever seen. It’s like some kid whose parents buy all their gadgets anyway has something to say.

  21. Where are you long? You need to delete these disrespectful comments from those illiterate fools.

  22. steve jobs is co-ordinating a troll attack on istartedsomething while he is sick! aha!

    (no, in all seriousness, i hope he gets better).

  23. Funny how you call me an illerate fool when you apparantly don’t realize that the store is FAKE. As for poor products, why does Windows have 90% of the OS marketshare? Why is Zune growing? Why were 20 million Windows mobile phones sold in 2008 alone? Why did microsoft decide to extend the Windows 7 Beta after seeing how many people wanted it? in fact, why would people even want such a “shitty product”? I wouldn’t be surprised if your trolling is being done from a Windows Pc. You idiots are here calling the store a “failed attempt” among other things when it’s not even real to begin with. I don’t know what’s your beef with Microsoft, but not everyone feels the same way do. Find somewhere else to post your nonsense.

  24. Like Casey Willinger said, I think it’s funny that Apple fanboys visit Microsoft-oriented blogs just to pick a fight 😛

  25. You’re wasting your time. This douche is just a kid who got tired of playing with himself and decided to spam a tech board. The guy goes around yelling “Micro$ux! Lolz [email protected]!!” and then calls others illiterate. You can’t expect a child to understand things like research, development, and marketing. Just give him something shiny and he will go away.

  26. @ Brad- You’re absolutely right. I suppose they do purely to make trouble, and then they have a good laugh about it, because they think that Apple is the best thing ever. If it’s shiny and made by Apple, they’ll buy it.

  27. What poor consumers we have become. I am a PC guy. I do like Microsoft. But they are failing us,(just like every other large company) worried more about image than the products released. You don’t have image problems if you put out great products that work. Why is it we accept technology that never works completely? Everything from our operating systems to our cell phones. Everything released that involves a CPU fails to live up to my standards. Yet like sheep, we go and spend our hard earned money on products that last mear years & those years the company are still “perfecting” the technology. When the company finally starts to get it right they ask us to purchase their next product & the cycle contiues. It all seems to keep us entertained, but nothing productive ever really comes from it. Just thoughts…..

  28. Go to approx. 0:54 – Redmond has been busy, copying the OS X Dock!!
    Gee Microsoft just love the OS X Dock don’t they? First they take the idea and base their new superbar on the OS X Dock, in Win 7.
    Now they rip the dock off in their own ‘Retail Experience Store’. Far out!

  29. @ iMapple. That is a program called Rocket Launcher, or a similar program that can add a dock to windows. It is a 3rd party application, and it is usually Dell or the person who makes the computer itself that adds the program to the installed software you get when you purchase a PC from them. The dock in that image is not a creation of Microsoft’s. I am also suggesting that if you like Apple products, and worship the Apple brand, you should stay away from this site. This is a site about things related to PCs and Microsoft and such. Try for Mac stuff.

  30. @iMapple
    I love the dock, it’s what I add to my Vista install to make it perfect. It’s the only thing Apple does that MS doesn’t that I want.

    What’s wrong with copying anyway as long as it’s within the law? It’s a good thing they copy each other, it helps them “catch up”. Both MS and Apple are doing their respective catch up through copying, and getting ahead through innovation. Hopefully you can understand that.

  31. Guys I am angry at microsoft for some reason so I am going to post here about how much they suck and use words like ‘noob’ and ‘m$’ because I think that will upset people who come here and I think that will accomplish something.

  32. I’m not a huge fan of windows. I do think they should open a store though. They don’t really need to do much to stay in business though. It would be a better experience for users though. So many people rely on windows based software and games.

  33. Looks like MS listened to you on this also. From PressPass:

    REDMOND, Wash. — Feb. 12, 2009 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that David Porter will join the company as corporate vice president of Retail Stores. He will lead Microsoft’s efforts to create a better PC and Microsoft retail purchase experience for consumers worldwide through the development and opening of the company’s own retail stores.

  34. I wonder if there would be regular protests, as well as vociferous complaints, at such a store. I can think of few companies that have earned such a high level of bad feelings from so many of their (forced) customers.

  35. So this is pretty much a rip off concept, but hey I will most definitely take my xbox to the Microsoft gurus! See if they can fix it… that will be so much better than going to best buy or calling microsoft over the phone.

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