The Microsoft Store Experience

There’s a Microsoft Store right across from the Apple Store in the Valley Fair Mall. Cliff and I realized this after exiting the Apple Store there with a new keyboard and headphones. We’d never been in an MS Store before, so we ambled over with our clean white Apple-branded accessories in hand. The Windows Phone 7 display was in the back corner, attended by a nice woman who offered to fetch a Nokia Lumia 800 phone from the back for us to inspect. I have one of the earlier WP7 phones I use for browser testing. It’s really a pretty good looking mobile OS, and the browser is competent, and in the Nokia Lumia body I have to admit it’s quite a nice package.

I said as much to the woman who’d handed me the phone and the three of us exchanged a few words on the matter. Then she pointed at our Apple-branded boxes and told us it was a problem we’d brought them in. She was happy to help us dispose of them.

I smiled and offered the phone back. Other guests wanted to play with it as well, and I didn’t want to delay them or her. I felt sad for her, though I couldn’t say it. I can’t imagine we were the first people to walk in with Apple products clutched under our arms, and I’m surprised to see them perceived as a threat worthy of such a tone-deaf comment.

I can, however, remember a couple decades ago when I saw the Windows logo that way and probably said similar things myself.

The story would just be a startling realization of how significantly the two companies’ fortunes have shifted since then, except for my time with the Windows tablets. They were on display with a keyboard and mouse attached, but I was poking at the screen trying to bring up the Windows menu when another salesperson asked if I needed help. I asked if I should expect the touch screen to work and the salesperson said I should, unless it’s been turned off. He did some fiddling, then restarted it with the explanation that that usually fixes most problems. It didn’t, so he continued fiddling and two other salespeople came over to help. Together they pointed and argued about how what might be wrong and how to fix it.

Again I felt sad and had to walk away.

Steve Jobs in 1996 explained to the Apple faithful, including me, that Apple’s success wasn’t dependent on Microsoft’s failure. Perhaps now the the MS faithful need to remember that the reverse is also true.

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