Originally Posted by Mac Voyer
Can someone help me understand why MS is doing this. When Apple opened retail stores, there were very few places people could even see a Mac, let alone buy one. There were also very few places to have your Mac serviced. Good luck finding Mac software. There was no way Apple could convince a large number of people to switch from Windows and at least consider their products without a reliable retail presence.
With Gateway stores and Dell kiosks, they were trying to give people a way to see and touch their offerings which was particularly important for selling laptops.
In the time before A.S. (Apple Stores), Apple relied on third party retail stores to sell their machines. At the time, PC's really became a commodity and Apple, becoming quite frustrated, felt the industry was not taking them seriously. Retail stores were not giving Apple the kind of floor space and advertising necessary to compete among the bottom-of-barrel PC / Windows machines.
So Apple did what it does with their products. They took complete control of their product line not just from inception to manufacture, but all the way to retail and exposure. They elevated their products above the commodity level and made it a lifestyle. Because they have complete control over hardware and software, they can provide the end-user a total experience package. Because they control the hardware, they can make absolutely sure their OS "just works" on it. So whether it's an iPod of a high-end Mac Pro, they managed to make the operation of their products as simple as using a toaster.
Love it or hate it, the general consensus (IMHO) is that users are migrating to Apple simply because users believe Apple provides more value for their money which includes much more than just low price. Even in this horrible economic situation we're in, the fact that Apple is still having blowout quarters while PC makers are fighting for their existence just goes to show that Apple has something going for it.
And herein lies the conundrum with Microsoft's plan. In general, they only provide software. Windows is used by millions of people and corporations. It's something people equate to the humdrum routine of working in the office. It will be a serious uphill battle for MS to shed that grunge image. How they will succeed at this will be a big mystery to most. How a Guru will be expected to (politely) tell a customer their corrupted machine cannot be serviced by them since it is a vendor / hardware issue will be interesting for sure. Even though MS owns Windows, they cannot dictate how it will be used by PC makers that could have made faulty hardware or terrible drivers.
They have a completely different company plan than Apple does. For MS to simply imitate Apple's stores literally in service (not just floor plan) will be a recipe for disaster.
For MS to imply they may open up stores alongside Apple stores would be suicidal. Imagine a user dropping off their corrupted PC at a guru desk for an hour or two. They may just take a walk next door to Apple and start asking questions, see how their Genius bar works and the problems they deal with and may end up deciding that perhaps the Apple way would be the better way after all.
You cannot simply train someone for a MS guru position that has the kind of passion and belief that an Apple genius employee has for Apple or OSX. It may sound arrogant to some. How many hardcore Windows gurus have you met that genuinely love what MS does and how their products are and are willing to do what it takes to spread that belief? I work 9-to-5 on using Windows (on a Mac though) and believe me I find no joy in having to use it with all the everyday issues one has just to keep it running decently.