updated 12:40 pm EDT, Thu October 15, 2009
Microsoft retail timed with new OS
Microsoft's planned retail store openings will start just in time for Windows 7's appearance next week, a leak late yesterday may reveal. A single source for the WSJ says the first store, in Scottsdale, Arizona, should open either on Windows 7's October 22nd release date or within a few days afterwards. However, it would be the only store to launch near the OS as the Mission Viejo, California store would only open a few weeks later.
The software developer is also understood as taking a much more cautious approach to retail expansion than previously thought and is waiting on early reactions to the first two stores before committing to more.
Most of the actual store layouts are already known and should lift multiple concepts directly from Apple, including an answer bar that directly clones Genius Bars as well as a bright, open layout with fully functioning demo units. The newer source adds that a 94-inch screen will be in place for shoppers to try out Xbox 360 games.
Microsoft is counting on its retail shops as part of a wider image makeover following the damage done by Vista and Windows Mobile. Much of its known strategy to date has borrowed heavily from Apple, however, and has involved luring Apple retail staff, up to and including former Apple real estate VP George Blankenship to head up its store strategy.