The Microsoft Store is like a Bizarro World version of an Apple Store.
Where Apple is stark, a single room of chrome and white, Microsoft is meant to be warm, a single room of earth tones and wood. Where Apple has more than 300 locations world wide, Microsoft has just seven.
During a recent visit to Microsoft's Lone Tree in Colorado, though I noted a lot of philosophical similarities between the two company stores.
The Lone Tree store is located on the top floor of the trendy Park Meadows Mall, a collection of stores located in a vast building of exposed wood beams, monumental fireplaces and park-like springs.
Like an Apple Store, the Microsoft Store is one giant room with very little in the way of an uninterrupted view of everything going on. The store I visited seemed to be divided into several key areas, one for Windows 7 Phones and the Zune, one for laptops, one for software. The largest section, stretching from the front of the store to its distant back wall, is dedicated to the Xbox 360 and its games. That includes a half dozen play stations and two Kinect areas.
In a store so packed with technology and gaming, the absence of anything Apple, Nintendo or Playstation is almost unsettling.
Personal shoppers wander the floor looking for folks to help, while Technical Advisors wait to answer questions and do on-site repairs at the Answer Desk. The store also hosts training classes and events.
An employee tells me that Microsoft is in this whole retail store idea for the long-haul, hoping to expand to more locations as the existing seven take off. There are some neat things about the store, like the ability to get your Xbox 360 skinned with a print, photo, logo or design of your choice for $US20. Also, I was told that the store has the ability to burn retail software on a disc on demand if they don't have a box copy on hand.
The store was bustling during my visit there on a Saturday with folks playing games, looking over laptops and even quite a few people playing Dance Central in the back.
It seems like Microsoft, even more than Apple, has a great reason to have their own retail store. They've got PCs and phones to support, a vast collection of Xbox 360 games and hardware and the Zune.
My only disappointment was discovering that even in Microsoft's own store, PC games are tucked away in a back corner.