Randy Guthrie – Microsoft Academic Developer Evangelist (US)
I have been giving guest lectures at various CS and CIS classes at Arizona State University this past week, and had an opportunity to visit the new Microsoft Store located at the very upscale Fashion Plaza Mall in Scottsdale, AZ. The store is located inside the mall, near the Louis Vuitton store. At other places inside the mall there is signage attracting people to the store.
Before I arrived at the store, I sort of had a mental image of walls full of boxes of software, with an XBox corner with consoles and accessories, sort of like the Microsoft Store on the Redmond campus. The store itself looks remarkably familiar its white clean motif. The walls have a continuous strip of video monitors where demo machines and XBoxes project their content. The main focus of the store seems to be to compete directly with Apple so hardware is very much evident ranging from Zune HD music players, Windows Mobile Phones, a wide range of netbooks and notebooks, desktop computers and very cool displays and monitors including the new HP touch screen monitors. While there are boxes of hardware and accessories in the store, they are at the back of the store and are relatively understated. There is a mini theater in the back where live demos can be given.
One thing that I thought was a great touch was the service counter where you can get advice or get a problem solved. I saw people dropping off and picking up, so I imagine a lot of those were upgrades from XP or Vista to Windows 7.
The employees in the store were bright, young, hip, and enthusiastic. They also seemed to know what they were talking about. Definitely not the “Chuck”/Best Buy crowd.
While I somehow expected more Microsoft hype (like Master Chief), I thought the store serves a basic need and definitely competes well in terms of getting out the message that Microsoft mean high performance coupled with great value.