Apple’s retail stores have been a massive success for a simple reason – they make it easy for people to come in and hang out and spend some hands-on time with their products. Now Microsoft is rolling out their own retail stores around the country too. Some are pop-up shop experiences, like their store in Times Square. While others are permanent, like their shop that opened up at the Westchester Mall in White Plains this past September.
We got a tour of the new Microsoft Store in White Plains, and color us impressed. It’s obvious that Microsoft has taken cues from the Apple retail store experience. To that effect, the store offers everything Microsoft under one roof. You can check out the latest touchscreen Ultrabooks, all-in-one desktops, and Windows 8 touting tablets such as Microsoft Surface. There is also a dedicated Windows Phone section where you can try out Microsoft’s newest mobile devices at your leisure. There is even a dedicated video game area for Xbox Games. Plus, outside of the store, in the mall, there is a dedicated Kinect area where folks can come and play Dance Central 3, all day long.
Microsoft is also offering free in-store workshops for the community. That ranges from small business workshops which teach PowerPoint, Word, etc to business users, to workshops for kids which introduce kids to new technologies. As a matter of fact, on our way in to the store we just missed a community event where a troop of Girl Scouts had come into the store to learn about tech and earn some special Girl Scout tech badges. To further make the store enticing to the community, the theater at the back of the store is available to be used as a free community space. This is all part of Microsoft’s efforts to give back to the community, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that it keeps the store looking busy and will undoubtedly draw in new customers to come check out all the new Windows 8 toys.
In addition, to selling Xbox 360 consoles, computers, phones and tablets, the Microsoft Store also has a dedicated section for accessories. Here you can find an equally colorful ranges of cases, headphones, mice and peripherals to complimented your Microsoft gear. Again, this is something that the Apple store does a great job of and is so often overlooked in the PC world.
While Best Buy and other big retailers offer a limited supple of Windows 8 devices, the experience at the Microsoft Store is a lot more colorful and fresh. After all, where else can you check out all the latest Ultrabooks under a single roof? Microsoft needed these stores. Because it’s one thing to hear about how neat Windows Phone is, and another thing altogether to get your hands-on and play with it.