Motley Fool Tip for Microsoft Stores: Bring More Web to Living Room

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 Bryan Chaffin - The Back Page

Motley Fool's Tim Beyers has a suggestion for Microsoft's Big Redmond-branded retail stores: Bring more of the Web into the living room. In other words, forget about, "improving the articulation and demonstration of the Microsoft innovation and value proposition" (real words, believe it or not, from Microsoft's announcement) and focus on showing users how Microsoft technologies can bridge the PC to the living room.

He suggests showing off multiple networked Xboxes, WiFi-enabled Zunes "tricked out with related audio gear," and Web content like World of Warcraft and streaming movies showing on an HD TV via Windows Media Center.

He suggests Microsoft offer their own brand of Windows Geniuses (my words for the concept, not Mr. Beyers's or Microsoft's) that can show users how do home entertainment installations based around Xboxes or PCs.

It's great advice, but Microsoft is incapable of visualizing such concepts, let alone executing them. Oh, sure, they have a Wal-mart executive in charge of this project. He'll no doubt be able to bring all that great Wal-mart merchandizing and cool caché to bear on the problem...

No, I guess I'll stick to the idea that Microsoft is incapable of visualizing such concepts, let alone executing them.

My reading of Microsoft's plans is that they think having Windows experts in a retail environment will show people how awesome Vista or Windows 7 really is. My reading is that they think the problem with Vista is not that Vista was built to meet Microsoft's needs instead of user needs, but that Vista is simply misunderstood. My reading is that they think they can keep the same thing from happening to Windows 7 if they can simply control the message, like Apple does.

I may be wrong about all that, but when looking at Microsoft's track record, my analysis is on sound footing. I think they've seen how well Apple has done with its retail stores -- how it has used those retail stores to its advantage -- and they think that they really need to do the same thing. Worse, I think they feel that if they can do the same thing, they'll take control of the message back from Apple.

The problem is, however, that they can't do the same thing that Apple has done. they won't even be able to come close. They're going to set up these stores to show off Windows, and no one is going to care. They're going to show off the Zune, poorly, and no one is going to care. If they were to even try to offer Windows Geniuses, they would be beset by endless queues of unhappy Windows users looking to get their yearly reinstall of Windows.

Even if they followed Mr. Beyers's excellent advice and had those Windows Geniuses targeting Microsoft PC-to-Living-Room-Bridge-Technologies, they'd still be beset by endless queues of unhappy Windows users.

It's just a disaster in the making. Tim Beyers' has some excellent rough ideas for Microsoft, but Big Redmond is going to simply make a mess of the whole thing. They should listen to him, but even if they do, these retail stores are going to be an even worse flop than the Zune.

In research note to clients obtained by The Mac Observer, Alan Krans of TBR offered an excellent breakdown and analysis of Microsoft's retial initiative. In that note one of his most poignant observations is that Microsoft has to accept that it can't be David. Microsoft is Goliath, the giant of the computing industry. The company can't be scrappy, it can't be the underdog, and it is likely to never, ever be cool.

The Apple envy Big Redmond has been so keen on displaying for all the world to see is pointless, and the company needs to accept its role of Goliath and move on; make the best of it.

Microsoft-branded retail stores showing off Windows is not making the best of it, with or without the help of a Wal-mart exec.

Maybe they should hire Tim Beyers. That might actually worry me.



Yeah - the lines will be as long as at The Apple Store. But they won’t be enthusiastic customers trying to buy, but sufferers of blue-screen, red-ring and the like.

Not a good strategy, Redmond


It’s really nice to see your articles so frequently again, Bryan. I missed ‘em.

And I agree. It won’t work, and I think Steve Ballmer will go down in history as the CEO that sunk the company. Microsoft’s attempted parroting of Apple’s successes are so transparent and just plain tired at this point, the only words I can think of are pathetic, sad, and weak. I don’t even delight in their comeuppance anymore. I wish they’d just go away. Even if they never fade completely, it’s pretty clear that their time in the sun has come to an end. They should cut their losses and get on with it.


Microsoft Geniuses.

AKA, the Nerd Herd????

W. Gates

Die Groundwalkers!!!!

W. Gates

die groundwalkers!


Now wait a minute,

Didn’t the retailers that existed before Apple say that there was no way Apple would be successful?

Be careful, Microsoft might actually be onto something. They might make standing in line to have Windows reinstalled a good thing. Imaging if they made it easy and fun. “Watch how the Windows Wizard preserves all of your files, deftly saves the registry entries of the applications you use and flushes the rest of Windows from your machine.” It’ll be the colon cleanse of the 2010s.


The one thing Microsoft has completely ignored is the reason Apple opened its stores in the first place. Where they were even available, Apple products were not being sold or displayed even marginally well.

Apple didn’t open its stores to control any message, that was just a byproduct of intelligent usage of the commodity. It opened the stores because Steve Jobs didn’t believe anyone else knew how to properly sell Apple products.

Microsoft should take a long look at its perceived need for opening these stores.


Bryan Chaffin

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

Dan, I think the second sentence in your second paragraph is in direct contradiction to the first sentence in that paragraph. smile

Steve Jobs is all about control.  He wants to control the user experience every step of the way, and I think being able to control the message to customers was the primary reason for the stores.


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