All computers in the store come with support and Microsoft Signature; a free service that removes all the “free” antivirus and other PC manufacturer software that crufts up a new PC, and gives customers a pristine installation of Windows 7.
— Microsoft Store Mimics, and Enhances, the Apple Store Experience
This tidbit about the (creepy) Microsoft Stores is interesting. Microsoft’s direct entry into retail is already going to strain a lot of their existing retail and OEM relationships. This is only going to exacerbate the problem. And it sends a terrible message to people: “Our PCs are great, but not the way all of our OEM partners sell them.”
The most significant side of Microsoft’s retail stores, though, is general PC support. I’m curious to see how this plays out. To what extent will they offer PC support? What if you didn’t buy the PC from a Microsoft Store? What if it’s one of the same models that the Microsoft Store sells, but you got it from Costco or the manufacturer’s website? What if you built your PC yourself from parts? Will support ever cost money, and if so, how much, and under what conditions? If it will be mostly free or cheap, what’s stopping Microsoft Stores from becoming overwhelming zoos of people waiting on line to plunk down their crapbooks with malware infestations? And if a lot of people go to the Microsoft Store for support, how will this affect the retail partners, such as Best Buy, who make a lot of money performing PC support services today?
(And what’s the point of the Microsoft Surface? I saw one in an upscale office’s lobby. I tried to use it, but its touch-screen driver had crashed. Really. There was an obtuse dialog on screen about it, but I couldn’t dismiss it, because touches weren’t being intercepted as mouse clicks. The receptionist didn’t notice. I think I was the only one to look at the $10,000 table that day. Across the room was a tremendous rear-projection touch-wall displaying a 9-foot-tall Internet Explorer window and an on-screen keyboard. Despite the keys being nearly a square foot each, touch-detection accuracy was so poor and registered incorrect keys so frequently that we couldn’t successfully type “tumblr.com” before we were called into the office.)