From undisputed software leader, with some successful areas also in the hardware field (just think of the XBox), in a decade Microsoft has reached a position that is hot on the heels of names like Apple, Google and Samsung. After years of serious flops like Windows Vista, and still unable to find a profitable foothold in the mobile revolution, Microsoft is now trying to change tack and make its way back to the top of the consumer market. The succession of CEO Steve Ballmer and the acquisition of Nokia are just two of the latest, sensational manifestations of a company that is carefully reviewing its affairs.
In this scenario, the opening of the first Microsoft Stores in the last two years is emblematic of a new strategy aiming to control the whole supply chain from production to sales, with products 100% made in Redmond, like the tablet Surface. An aggressive and totally opposite strategy to that which marked the success of Microsoft software in the 1990s (licensing Windows to hardware manufacturers). For example, the stores are located in large shopping centres, possibly near to the busy Apple Stores, from which they have almost copied, and very faithfully, the layout and furnishing logic.
Reading the comments on the web, it appears that the old rivalry with Cupertino has returned to centre stage. Some talk of stores that are pleasant to visit, while others simply mark them as poor copies of the Apple Stores, in which the only pleasant thing is the … peace and quiet, seeing as nobody goes there. As ever, the market will show who is right.
Slate – Welcome to the Microsoft Store
A visit to the store in Palo Alto (author: Farhad Manjoo)
Marco.org – An alternate universe
A popular post by a famous Apple geek (author: Marco Arment)
CNet – Why the Microsoft store isn’t like the Apple store
The tale of a positive experience (author: Chris Matyszczyk)
Forbes – Microsoft Stores Are Very Sad Places
A criticism of the strategy of copying Apple in order to be anti-Apple (author: Dave Thier)