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Author Topic: Perk visits Windows Store. Analysis: Sell MSFT right now.  (Read 7566 times)
perkiset
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« on: October 28, 2009, 01:36:09 PM »

Yup - Perk decided to purchase a new copy of Windows 7 at the new, flagship Windows store (the only one in the world ATM). I went in without letting them know anything about my proclivities or anything - I just went to have them counsel me on which product to purchase and get a feel for the experience.


First blush:
Well, the reviews are right: the blatant scoff of the Apple store look and feel is spot on. Rather than a silver apple as the only sign in the front, it's the 4 color Window logo. Lots of young people in colorful shirts, willing to help. Even down to the candy-plastic name tags and pens hanging around their neck - it was ridiculous. Blonde wood shelves and tables with lots and lots and lots of shelves with Windows 7 on them. In fact, the vast majority of the store was that: racks with Windows 7 on them. Some odd computers here and there, but not a lot.

Quick count: 25 employees walking the floor to 18 customers. Bear in mind, this is a one of a kind store - the first in the world, and it's been open a week. I walked to the store across the way and the SunglassHut kiosk in the middle of the aisle and asked them about traffic - busy busy busy on day one, since then, hardly anyone. In fact, it looked a little extra busy when I was there (I came just after the dinner rush, when there's most people freely walking in the mall).

I also stood at the entrance for a while just to get a sense for why people came in and what people thought while walking by. Interestingly, there was almost total apathy as people walked by - adults, kids, you name it - no interest at all. I listened to 10 people walk in over the course of about 20 minutes. To a man, the question was, "Windows 7?" Many of these people left the store without a purchase.

My experience with the salespeople:
There were two young ladies in the front of the store (there's a Windows 7 shelf in your way, right as you walk in with all the different versions, lush all over it - you can see it surrounded by the girl in green and the girl in orange in the top shot). I told them that I'd like to purchase Windows 7 - which one should I get?

They started with very pedantic "Well, if you're just using at home, then home basic might be good for you, but if you do a little more than other people then home premium might be good. If you do some business stuff then you should probably go Business premium but the best one is Ultimate. Here I had to let a little more of me get out: I told them that I'd been a programmer a long time and needed just a little more detail. What, exactly, did Business offer that home didn't? Why home premium rather than basic? They couldn't really answer me so they gave me a brochure. I was confused, so I said that I wanted my clients to be able to connect to a Windows Domain. They immediately jumped then that I required Business Premium at a minimum. Ultimate really only gives me some Bit-thing which I didn't understand and 35 languages that I can work in. English is fine, thank you.

Next, the upgrade question. Here's where it got interesting. An upgrade for BP is 200, where a clean install is 300. You can upgrade from Vista to 7, but XP to 7 will be a little more trouble - you've got to essentially backup everything, let Win7 destroy everything, then restore what you can.

By now, a totally John Goodman "PC" looking man came over to help. I mentioned that I was concerned about Win7 dumping everything and the upgrade process from XP - he said, with a straight face: "Oh don't worry. I've had to do it several times to my machine. It should work for you just fine."

Shocked

I tried not to make my blinking disbelief too obvious. Did he really just say that? By now two more people had walked over and I was feeling a little overwhelmed. They began a discussion, right there in front of me, about the perils, pitfalls and potential issues of an XP upgrade. They even disagreed about which version I should have, and why. I told them I needed to step back and just think about how many of what versions I needed. They stood there and continued to debate while I retired to a corner.

There I watched 2 young Sri Lankan men (I believe) play with the only thing that seemed to really have wow in the store, the MS table top. Here you can see me taking a picture of them, taking a picture of themselves playing with it ... on an iPhone. This is also where I managed to hang for a while and just get the lay of the land and an idea for the people walking in and out.


The kiosk with the Windows 7 I had been looking at was again clear of people save the original young lady I had met. I told her what I was looking for - a few licenses for Business. Well, they don't have multi-license packs for business. But I could purchase Home Premium, and then these little ancillary packages that would upgrade HP to BP for only $150 each, so my net expenditure would be about $150 less than if I purchase just BP licenses. OK, I'll do it. Oh, but wait - there's no clean install version of that, only upgrade. Honestly, the number of options, configurations, ways I could purchase etc etc was just monumentally confusing. I consider myself a reasonable thinker: but after a few moments with them I was literally unable to wrap my mind around what exactly (and how many of each) I needed to purchase.

By now my head hurt and I just wanted to leave. The store had demonstrated itself to be exactly the same experience as Windows itself is. Confused, confusing and unfocused. I grabbed a BP clean install and said I'll just take this.

She took to me to a kiosk to pay, it didn't work. She took me to another one, it was logged out and she didn't have a password. She took me to the back of the store where there was another and finally managed to charge me. Behind here was the "Guru bar" where 3 people with different computers were surrounded by 3 each (total 9) people working over their computers, pointing at the screen and working with them on their systems. It's separated by glass so I could not hear what was going on, but from the looks of the customers (blank, faintly creeped out) it seemed clear that the "Gurus" were not hitting home.

About that MSFT stock:
Of course, this little retail store is a pimple on the ass of a bacteria on the butt of a fly to M$ - it really shouldn't hurt that badly - but there are some fundamental problems that, if they don't get sorted out, will be. First: they have a *huge* amount of floor space in a very expensive mall. They have very, very few products to actually sell and, from my little experience but from common sense as well, people are not going to trek to the mall to visit a store that has a pretty limited array of computers so that they can purchase Toshiba directly from Microsoft. This means that the store is a Windows 7 store and a customer service bar. The amount of Windows 7 they'll need to sell out of that store to make it worth anything is beyond profound - it's ridiculous.

IMO they should have gone for a "Microsoft Solutions" store rather than the Windows store. Then they could've had phones, the XBox ... lots of sexy stuff, rather than just a single piece of software with a really confusing purchase matrix.

The real problem, IMO, is that they've both validated the Apple store model (by copying it directly), spent themselves into a corner...

(here is the bag that I received my Windows 7 in: typical M$ fashion - take the Apple bag, spend way more on it to try and look better - but it offers no benefit at all. Note the very high quality - canvas, stitched, it even feels printed/raised not silked. Clearly, "Better" than an Apple bag. But I need this hunk of anti-Green to walk out with a box of software? I'm actually amazed that they'd spend money here. As a stock holder, I would be aghast.)


...and when the store finally fails, they will have huge egg on their face and perhaps even a fatal public opinion blow. They have devalued the Windows brand by trying to be Apple. My lasting impression was, "Don't you guys have any original ideas of your own?" In fact my store experience was like a living Get A Mac commercial - John Goodman trying desperately to be as hip as Mac - which he neither can be or, frankly, should be. Windows has a personality, it has a following and it has ubiquity on it's side - they should be focusing on leverage THAT, rather than trying to be Apple. The net experience was that they just look pathetic.

Perk predicts 18 months that they will play with this notion and then step back big - unless it's even quicker. This is a horrible, ill conceived model that is going to do Windows no good at all. It may or may not have any impact on the stock value, but it will certainly have an impact in the long run on people's impression of windows. Or maybe not. Maybe the lack of customers, or excitement at the store is right in line: exactly where the bulk of the existing Windows customer base is already. Perhaps people already could give a shit, and this whole quixotic retail store notion is just emblematic of M$'s real troubles with Windows.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 01:46:24 PM by perkiset » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2009, 02:45:42 PM »

lol. pretty much what i figured it would be.

And yes, the upgrade/purchase paths are absurd.

PRO was the right choice for you BTW. enterprise only has bitlocker and few other things you would never use.

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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2009, 03:09:17 PM »

Even thinking about it now, I am reminded of how an IBM computer (circa '85ish) had "toy mode" which had a GUI and used a mouse. A sort of mocking mimicry because they didn't get it. In several ways, that's what the M$ store felt like - a really bad copy that sort of attempted to mock the Apple store while seeing if they can get some of the drippings.

I do *not* understand the M$ thinking on this.
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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2009, 03:17:19 PM »

Congrats on the new OS!!  Now all you have to do is allow M$ to "Genuine Advantage" your ass so you can get access to the basically required admin tools Roll Eyes

I'm surprised you spent so much time evaluating the new M$ store.  Since you already knew about the nasty Win7 edition matrix I figured when you realized that's all they were selling you'd head out pretty fast.  Of course the additional confusion with the employees is pretty damn funny  ROFLMAO

In general though I think you may have overlooked one point that all businesses face, even hot dog stands: when something is brand new there will always be confusion.  How could these imitation Mac Nazis possibly be good at their jobs in the very beginning when they probably make as much as the real Mac Nazis do: minimum wage Wink
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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2009, 03:38:25 PM »

>I do *not* understand the M$ thinking on this.

Well for a company that's at the brunt of every IT joke they did a hell of a job getting you to spend a good deal of time evaluating the store and writing about it  ROFLMAO  I actually wished one was closer just so I could play with Win7 before ass raping one of my machines with it.

But doesn't this logic make at least a little sense to you.  No matter what they do people will groan about their actions, and usually for very good reasons.  So groaning about M$ is what they pay good money for IMO.  They've completely surrendered to being uncool, so much so that all they have left is to mock Apple for focusing on such a "silly" core competency. 

Completely agree about IBM and toy mode in that M$ still can't see why some people just love Apple.  But the big difference is market maturity.  Back then IBM mocked the silly vision of mass adoption of a GUI for personal computers, which hadn't happened yet.  M$ showing contempt for Apple with an Apple-like store can never come back to haunt them since Apple is already a success.

I think Apple and M$ should get far less airtime in general in favor of empowering and open technologies that level the digital playing field. 

I'm switching to Ubuntu and to hell with the rest! (http://www.ubuntu.com/)
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2009, 04:26:06 PM »

I'm surprised you spent so much time evaluating the new M$ store.  Since you already knew about the nasty Win7 edition matrix I figured when you realized that's all they were selling you'd head out pretty fast.  Of course the additional confusion with the employees is pretty damn funny  ROFLMAO
Same reason I read right wing rags - gotta know what everyone is doing/saying or your opinions only come from your favorite experience. I'd not be able to look myself in the mirror, if I was bagging on M$ for this new venture without experience of it.

In general though I think you may have overlooked one point that all businesses face, even hot dog stands: when something is brand new there will always be confusion.  How could these imitation Mac Nazis possibly be good at their jobs in the very beginning when they probably make as much as the real Mac Nazis do: minimum wage Wink
Actually they are purported to make quite a bit more, and the M$ store even pays more (they had to to attract Mac store folks to quit for their store).

Of course there'd be confusion, of course there'll be challenges in a new thang ... but keep in mind that this is no new business. M$, of all, should know how to train their people - both from the perspective that they have a new product (7) and that they have put themselves into direct comparison with Apple (the stores). This is no new business, this is only a new channel. Confusion about time cards, or kiosks for charging, or all manner of retail store problems would not only be forgivable, they would be expected. Confusion and debate about the product itself, right in front of me, is not.

Well for a company that's at the brunt of every IT joke they did a hell of a job getting you to spend a good deal of time evaluating the store and writing about it  ROFLMAO  I actually wished one was closer just so I could play with Win7 before ass raping one of my machines with it.
LOL well, again I wanted to know they were up to.

But doesn't this logic make at least a little sense to you.  No matter what they do people will groan about their actions, and usually for very good reasons.  So groaning about M$ is what they pay good money for IMO.  They've completely surrendered to being uncool, so much so that all they have left is to mock Apple for focusing on such a "silly" core competency.
I don't think they've surrendered "cool." If so, this would make for an enormously expensive mockery of Apple - they look way to serious for that. No, I believe they think they can assimilate/drape cool upon themselves by doing the same thing apple has. F'reals, that's what it feels like. That's why it's so boggling to me ... do they really think that "cool" is the trappings of a store? It defies my imagination to think that they are that superficial. I mean FFS - they are Microsoft! They have, at times, produced the software that people all over the world use every day - arguably more penetration of virtually every 'puter front than any other company in the world in history. You'd think that they would have more depth of thought.

Completely agree about IBM and toy mode in that M$ still can't see why some people just love Apple.  But the big difference is market maturity.  Back then IBM mocked the silly vision of mass adoption of a GUI for personal computers, which hadn't happened yet.  M$ showing contempt for Apple with an Apple-like store can never come back to haunt them since Apple is already a success.
Again, I don't think it's contempt. Really meng. They're serious here. Don't they have something like 30 stores on the drawing board already?

I think Apple and M$ should get far less airtime in general in favor of empowering and open technologies that level the digital playing field. 

I'm switching to Ubuntu and to hell with the rest! (http://www.ubuntu.com/)
I somewhat agree - it is conceivable that the MS store will back-brush Apple with a bad color and free solutions will look even better.

But I doubt it Wink
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 04:27:38 PM by perkiset » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2009, 04:54:05 PM »

Same reason I read right wing rags - gotta know what everyone is doing/saying or your opinions only come from your favorite experience. I'd not be able to look myself in the mirror, if I was bagging on M$ for this new venture without experience of it.

Absolutely.  I do the same, though Rush gets awfully hard to keep on the radio for any length of time.  However, I personally don't have anything similar in the realm of technology to my political positions.  These are vastly different things to me.  When it comes to technology my perspectives form and evolve based on the merits as they effect me personally, along with those who I would advise or support in any way.  Politics effect the entire world and what might be "bad" for me personally along with my employed friends may be something I'd passionately support.

Quote
No, I believe they think they can assimilate/drape cool upon themselves by doing the same thing apple has.

I'd agree with this.  But I think they realize their cool factor will indefinitely lag behind Apple so they're just trying to be "cool enough" to make the "savings" worthwhile 

EDIT: @cool enough.  It's how Windows has always been.  They make it just passable enough to provide a discount path to tolerable usability.  This is why Windows has historically felt like a bag of ideas stitched together to form something that emulates a Mac-like experience, along with some of their own ideas that have a checkered success rate.  The foundation of Microsoft has always been to absorb other people's work into their world.  I just don't see why a Mac-like store is so hard for you to understand from a business perspective.  It's perfectly in line with their entire history IMO.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 05:02:08 PM by isthisthingon » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2009, 05:03:26 PM »

@ politics vs. tech: personally, I gather so many ideas from all different types of tech - it's the cross pollinating and blending of ideas from all walks that really spin my gears. And in fairness, I bag on M$ enough that they at least deserve my time to see if they've really got something to offer.

As I've stated a bunch - my attraction to Apple is the product of deep involvement with lots of OSs & machines, not just my surface opinions. I like knowing that my opinions of usage are based on my experience, rather than just my likes/dislikes.

All that said, I did keep looking around to make sure nobody recognized me  ROFLMAO ROFLMAO ROFLMAO
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2009, 05:48:43 PM »

Interesting (but not supprising) write up, perk.

They would probably like nationwide stores in a dream-world, but I bet the are just looking at this one as a marketing expense for 7.

For the record though, I will be upgrading my windows box when I get the chance.
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2009, 05:50:08 PM »

^^ Hmmmmm

Sure I didn't have 0 posts - positive I've posted here before!

Did you fudge the database, perk?
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2009, 06:02:08 PM »

nope ... I don't have any other posts by you here Bloggy. No fudge here.
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« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2009, 06:58:44 PM »

nope ... I don't have any other posts by you here Bloggy. No fudge here.

That's weird - I could have sworn I've posted here before...

Ok - I'll take you word for it - this is a no fudge zone.
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« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2009, 07:05:30 PM »

The "fudge zone" is definitely at the syndk8, not here  ROFLMAO
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« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2009, 07:45:19 PM »

And does weird stuff with post counts. It's more like an estimate it seems. At syndk8 I keep having to fix my counter (though I bolt a 9 on the front the rest is right, until it gets out of sync again)
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« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2009, 12:08:39 AM »

It's perfectly in line with their entire history IMO.
I lolled ROFLMAO


It's just sad that company like Microsoft is basically pissing away money and talent with all their moves. Microsoft is a perfect example how current company structure with shareholders destroys companies. With all that money Microsoft could truly change the world but no, they are stuck with existing products that suck ass and have to be constantly fixed. And then comes the time to make the next version and because the foundation sucks ass, they have no other choice than make a bigger ball of shit and hope it stays together. Even Apple is crumbling now that they have grown they made the exact right choice with Snow Leopard.

It's so sad that innovation has escaped from IT business and Apple has gone from innovative company to a company that has found a working formula of making products. They took churn, baby, churn little bit too much to the heart and now because of that, we are slowing down.
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