Just because there are a number of Microsoft Stores popping up within walking distance from Apple Stores across the United States, doesn’t mean that the retail chains are the same. In fact, the stores are quite different. Microsoft Stores do share the same clean and simplistic aesthetics that Apple retail locations have become notorious for over the past decade, although the Microsoft Store seems to pack some extra charisma and an upbeat atmosphere.
Chris Matyszczyk over at CNET visited his local Microsoft Store in Corte Madera, California over the weekend and received a friendly greeting from an employee, while also receiving an offer to play the Bing It On search engine challenge. The game was intended to prove that Bing provides better search results than Google. And while Google actually pulled through as the better search engine in Matyszczyk’s case, he was still given a nice $25 gift certificate for Microsoft products.
Matyszczyk notes that all Microsoft Store employees were wearing brightly colored shirts, which complimented the colorful Microsoft Surface tablets. In contrast, Apple employees merely wear blue shirts alongside monochromatic products. While this might be working for Apple in the present, Matyszczyk adds that there might come a time when the Cupertino-based company’s muted and monochromatic approach is ushered out in favor of Microsoft’s new era of vibrancy.
“For all this touchy-feely, the truth is that Microsoft needs a few more products like the Surface — products that are different and colorful. Products that can represent competition through inspiration, rather than mimicry.”
Based on my personal experiences shopping at Apple Store locations, it is obvious that Apple is just as meticulous about the design of its retail stores as it is about products like the new iPhone 5 and razor-thin iMac. At the same time, Apple Stores receive an overwhelming amount of foot traffic, sometimes resulting in a poor customer experience. Microsoft Stores seem to be more adequately prepared for customers, at least in the present, which gives them a major advantage as a competitor.