You knew it was just a matter of time before Microsoft followed Apple’s lead and opened their own brand of stores.
In the past, Microsoft has always worked with partners to sell their business/enterprise products. The consumer line of products was left to the retail stores, like Best Buy, small computer stores, etc., who may not be doing justice to the MS platform. So having a store where consumers can go and see MS product in action with an experience Microsoft can manage, I don’t think is bad. What I am wondering is how far up the food chain Microsoft plans on going with these stores? Will they also have techs which will compete against the likes of Geek Squad or Nerds on Site. Will Microsoft go after the SOHO market, which is where they have partners and compete against them or direct these SOHO customers to partners? All questions that will be answered in good time. Heck, the person they tapped to run the retail section doesn’t start until Tuesday, so they really are just getting going on this.
I am not surprised at all that Microsoft is opening retail stores. I wrote two retail store type Microsoft certifications last year, 70-626 – Consumer Sales Specialist and 70-625 – TS: Connected Home Integrator. Both of these exams were aimed at retail sales type people, with 626 being strictly sales and 625 being more of a support type role. Either these exams were written for the big chains or they have been planning this for a while.
By having a retail presence, not only does Microsoft have the opportunity manage their brand but also to gather direct feedback from customers via face to face encounters.