A word on the Kinect: The funny thing about it is that in terms of gameplay, it's a silly boondoggle that provides no real advantage over a standard gamepad and is worse in most ways. It's a cool piece of tech, to be sure, but it's becoming more and more clear that most people only bought it because of that coolness factor. It remains to be seen whether any developers will leverage it into anything truly unique instead of just making shitty shovelware.
How many people (not company purchasing departments) buy anything Microsoft other than an OS update or an Xbox? Apple stores centralize hugely successful consumer devices (iPods, iPhones, iPads) along with Macintosh hardware. MS isn't in the hardware biz in the same way that Apple is, and never will be.
Kinect may have been an innovation, but it too was a reaction- a reaction to the surprising success of the Nintendo Wii's motion controller.
I think Microsoft is starting to come around and realize that they can't just fall back on Windows and Office to remain profitable, they are quickly losing relevancy in the consumer-space. But WP7 is gorgeous (if not yet a hit), the 360 is still kicking ass, and the new interface for Windows 8 is pretty solid, although untested.

ThisIsMyNext has a pretty decent write-up about Microsoft and Windows in the "post-PC era":…

As an Android and OS X using Seattle native, I hope MSFT succeeds
@1 - Microsoft failed to see all of the possible applications for their Kinect game controller, as all the hackers that bought one and made it do amazing things can attest to.
i have no idea what would make anyone go to a Microsoft store ..they look like the Pottery Barn version of the Apple store. Microsoft wants to out Apple Apple, yet they are afraid of design and have no idea how to speak to consumers, 2 things Apple excels at. Microsoft needs to understand what their retail environments are about and if they don’t then consumers won’t ... I wish them luck but my gut says their stores will be a great big Zune.
The Apple Stores are a tiny part of the reason Apple's profits are high, and I very much doubt they're money-makers on their own. They're brand-emphasizers. Most of them don't earn enough to pay their rent -- especially in some of their high-profile locations. It's a place to futz with the stupid things and decide that, yeah, it's a cool thing, I should get one.

I'm not sure how that works for Microsoft. They are increasingly not really a consumer-product company; it's their server software that puts them ahead of the game. No one is going to go to a Microsoft Store to check out Exchange or SQL Server.

XBOX? Kinect? Nobody has any questions about those, do they? They're cool, but you buy those online, right? You can't base your store around just the mouses, right? Microsoft does make the best mouses, and always has, but it's not going to keep shops afloat.
The Microsoft stores have XBOXes and stuff, and MS software, but most of the space is taken up by third party machines- your dells and your HPs and whatnot. So MS doesn't really want for stuff to stock their stores with even if they don't really put their own name on anything in particular.

So, now you have a glitzy place to buy Windows-running hardware and XBOX stuff from smarmy, attractive salespeople the way you've had a place to buy MacOS-running hardware and iPods from smarmy, attractive salespeople. Some people will dig that! People who didn't like Microsoft to begin with will not have their minds changed! Apple continues to be the trendsetter! The status quo is maintained.

(disclosure alert: I work for Microsoft in their retail division. I even got a company-wide email today talking about disclosure guidelines in social media saying, 'by the way, you have to tell them you work for Microsoft.')
Those flying cars are just a fad. A fad, I say!
I feel like the problem is that there really is very little difference that I can think of between a Microsoft Store and a CompUSA (something that has been dying in the Age Of Best Buy). What is it going to have, exactly, that a Best Buy wouldn't? Or any other electronics store? Apple works because they are the sole creators of their products. Sure Best Buy also sells them, but not nearly as thoroughly as their own store or website. Microsoft computers, however? Yeah- that's pretty much the majority of BB and other electronic stores' real estate.

So yeah- not really sure what the point is other than trying yet again to rip off the model of Apple/competitors. More power to them, but I'm not sure they are barking up the right tree.
Apple Stores are Disneyland. Microsoft Stores are the county fair.
I won't put my shit on a cloud. Ever
There's a Microsoft store directly across from the Apple store in mall of america. Guess which had more people? The Microsoft store was flooded with people and a lot of cool stuff, a lot of which I hadn't seen before.
Most of them don't earn enough to pay their rent -- especially in some of their high-profile locations.

I'd be interested to know what this assertion is based on. I keep reading the stores have among the highest profit-per-square foot in all of retail. If what you say is true, that would suggest a handfull of stores must be bringing in astronomical amounts to make up for the ones that aren't paying their rent.
I'm thinking the Microsoft store will look like the Sony store at U-Village: full of things to buy, and no-one in there buying them. People buy plenty of Sony products, but not from a Sony store.
Apple Stores have the highest profit per square meterage in retail? Good grief. I assumed they were loss leaders for people to look at their products before buying them cheaper online. I can understand somebody buying a cable or an iTunes gift card, but everything else is cheaper online surely? I bought a shuffle for 75% of the price on the internet. The really expensive stuff must be really really expensive in the Apple Stores.
From MacWorld:

"One metric used to measure the financials of a retail store is sales per square foot, which is the average revenue generated for every square foot of sales space. This metric is used to gauge the efficiency of a retail operation; the higher the sales per square foot, the better. Jeweler Tiffany & Company’s $2700 per square foot used to be considered the gold standard, but Apple has surpassed Tiffany, generating more than $4000 in sales per square foot. By comparison, Best Buy’s sales per square foot is about $1000, and Walmart's is about $400."
Apple has a culture than Microsoft will never replicate. I had an very cool experience in an Apple store recently when I took my mom to buy a new iBook. The person who helped us was a woman almost my mother's age (65). I just can't see that in a Microsoft store.


They're selling like hotcakes on Amazon... 3 Cbooks are in the top ten!

@7: The best mouses, what? No, they haven't. Intellimice have always been adequate, but nowhere near the best. Logitech is superior just in terms of specs and arguably ergonomics, and you need to define your application- what's best for someone who plays far too much Team Fortress 2, like myself, is not going to be best for someone who still has a Hotmail account.
@18: "From MacWorld:"

@14 -- I visit the Mall of America about once every other month. Every time I've counted heads, the Apple store has significantly higher numbers of customers/browsers than the Microsoft store. On one occasion, I counted more sales staff than customers in the Microsoft store.
Fnarf @22,

Really? You're going to diss the numbers because they're from MacWorld? Then how about the WSJ via PC Magazine?

The Apple Stores make bucks. Lots of 'em. One of the biggest successes in retail over the past decade.
@5: "Microsoft failed to see all of the possible applications for their Kinect game controller ..."

Of course -- but they knew it would be a great thing, and not just for games. Did Apple see all the possible applications for the iPhone?
Well, Fnarf might be wrong about the profitability of Apple stores (perish the thought!), but he's so, so right about the power of Microsoft's server stuff. Mister TVDinner is a professional nerd, and he sometimes explains what he can do building big-ass networks across crazy distances, and they're using Server 2008 and a bunch of Cisco what-have-yous.

Anyway, it's impressive stuff. As much as I hate so many things about their business model and the way they've treated their employees, well, I gotta give 'em props for Server.
@23 I suppose it's possible. I saw plenty of people in the Apple store too, but the only time I was there the Microsoft store was packed, kids playing Kinect and touchscreen everything. I have to admit though, looking at the prices compared to the hardware, I thought Microsoft was significantly cheaper. The Microsoft store did have an almost identical layout to the Apple store.
related: I think it was linked to before on here, but here's video of Steve Jobs introducing the Apple Store in 2001...…
Every time I walk past the Microsoft store in Bell Square I feel embarrassed for Microsoft. The store is almost always completely empty just 50 feet north is the Apple store utterly jam packed with people.

That being said, the one time I had to take my son's XBox into the store for repair, the team was great.
I was just in an Apple store the other day and saw more than a dozen employees. I thought that was extremely high (most stores of the same size might have three or four, max, out on the floor), but if they're making that much money, no wonder.
Just go to Belle Square and take a look at both the MS and Apple stores. The Apple store is half the size of the MS store, and so when they have a couple dozen customers (which is always) it is almost impossible to move around and it's a mad house. You feel a part of a phenomenon and even sort of related to the other customers.
The MS store is huge and sprawling by comparison, and so even if they have the same number of customers (doubtful) it seems dead and empty. And why do I need to go into one? I can get a Windows phone at a phone store, Windows comes on the computer I can buy online, and Xbox and games I can get at Best Buy.
"Windows CE powered smartphones would soon swallow the MP3 player market"

Replace Windows CE with IOS and Android and he's probably right. Although "soon" might've been a bit of a stretch.
Shocked that you didn't mention the biggest reason Apple's retail chain has succeeded...

The Apple Store works because it's an all-in-one Apple solution house. My iPad broke the other day, and for most gizmo companies, that'd require a long conversation on a customer service line, waiting for the company to send me a return kit, dealing with warranty double-checks, and other potentially arduous red tape. And that's if I even call the right company in question--between the software maker, the hardware maker and (in many cases) the service provider, where does the buck stop?

In my case, I walked into the Apple Store, handed my broken iPad to a "Genius," and was handed a brand-new replacement not even five minutes later as part of my one-year hardware warranty. The guy even bent over backwards to apologize for having to wait. Best of all, this was an iPad purchased in China (long story). At no point was I given guff for an "out-of-region" iPad or anything. I'm a build-yr-own-PC kind of geek, but even I appreciated this simplicity. What of the compu-phobic computer, laptop, or phone buyer?

Windows works with too many third-party partners to deliver such service when a customer's in dire straits. Or, at least, that's the impression I've had whenever I've reached out to MS for help with a computer issue. "We're just Windows. You need to contact your vendor." If Microsoft's stores want to convert a whole new mess of shoppers, they need to get a message of service out to the populace--that they can help you with ANY laptop or ANY WP7 phone on ANY carrier.
The one thing I took away from doing contract work at Microsoft was that management very rarely thinks outside of their own brick and mortar. "This can't be good because we would've thought of it already." (Keyword: management)
Microsoft has always been reactionary. Some examples:

Mac OS > Windows
Word Perfect > Word
Lotus 123 > Excel
Lotus Notes > Exchange/Outlook/Sharepoint
Netscape > Internet Explorer
Webmail > Bought Hotmail
Palm Pilot > Windows CE > Windows Mobile
Sidekick > Buy Danger > Kin > Kill Kin and Danger
iPod > Zune
Playstation > Xbox
Google > Bing
iPhone > Windows Phone 7 (I suppose)
Wii > Xbox Kinnect

Surface > have you seen one?
Courier > killed
PC Tablet > failed
Office Ribbon > useless, hated, but $$$$ for upgrades
Microsoft has always been reactionary. Some examples:

Mac OS > Windows
Word Perfect > Word
Lotus 123 > Excel
Lotus Notes > Exchange/Outlook/Sharepoint
Netscape > Internet Explorer
Webmail > Bought Hotmail
Palm Pilot > Windows CE > Windows Mobile
Sidekick > Buy Danger > Kin > Kill Kin and Danger
iPod > Zune
Playstation > Xbox
Google > Bing
iPhone > Windows Phone 7 (I suppose)
Wii > Xbox Kinnect

Surface > have you seen one?
Courier > killed
PC Tablet > failed
Office Ribbon > useless, hated, but $$$$ for upgrades
It took them so long because it's a terrible idea. Microsoft is desperate now. The only product they have that's worth a shit is XBOX and connect. And nobody cares about going to a Microsoft Store for that. Nobody.

This is going to fail so hard. The only good thing about will be that it might, just might, help get rid of dinosaurs like Ballmer. And then maybe Microsoft can establish a vision again.
Fnarf - It's be awesome if you'd either admit when your wrong. Or. Put up some sort of cites of your own to support your assertions.
... That's what I thought.
leave it to fnarf to spout a bunch of completely made-up horseshit, and when someone calls him on it, he gets all huffy

in fnarf's made-up world, apple runs a worldwide chain of money-losing storefronts (yet somehow makes record profits) and microsoft isn't a consumer-focused company anymore (despite their software shipping on 9999.999999999% of PCs worldwide)

please, just shut the fuck up and never open your fat manchild food hole ever again. you are the worst kind of awful pale nerd internet commenter who thinks he knows everything under the sun. you would scoff at bill gates telling you how the shit went down in the mid-90s PC biz.
Two things: Mac OS is not better than Windows. Comparing the Wii, a fully-fledged game console, to the Kinect, an accessory, is like comparing a sandwich to some crust.
Teens and younger 20somethings drive the tech market, and their choices are highly influenced by cool. Microsoft will never be cool. Microsoft stores are your dad putting on parachute pants and doing the running man.

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