Last week was a big one for Microsoft
But that's not all. In the lingering desert heat of Scottsdale, Arizona, the first Microsoft-branded retail store opened. Some might say that Microsoft is desperately trying to duplicate the Apple
The critics may be right about the Apple-tinged inspiration, but Microsoft is putting its own spin on this one. Apple likes to keep its stores cool, clean, and uncluttered; Microsoft plastered the walls with high-definition screens, and there's a 94-inch screen hooked up to an Xbox 360.
The Apple stores are built to "simplify and enhance the presentation and marketing" of Apple products, and I think the keyword here is "simplify." From what I can tell, Microsoft is going more for the Vegas-style sensory overload and participation angle. In fact, the focus on eye candy and toys reminds me more of the Sony
The first Microsofties reportedly lined up outside the store on Wednesday, and the line stretched out of the Fashion Square Mall by the store's opening time. Early buzz seems to be healthy, but that will fade away soon enough. I mean, CompUSA opening its first store in Tallahassee was big news at the time, and we know how that worked out.
I still think this is a smart move by Microsoft -- and the company is approaching the retail sector with brains and poise aplenty. David Porter, who runs Microsoft's new retail division, comes with decades of experience from retail giant Wal-Mart Stores
By heading into its own smallish-format mall stores, Microsoft also avoids stepping on the toes of major sales partners like Wal-Mart and Best Buy
What do you think? Is Microsoft being stupid or visionary in Arizona? The comments box below is anxious to hear your thoughts and pass them on to Steve Ballmer.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Ballmer will get your comments if he reads this page -- I think that counts as "passing on." Apple, Best Buy, and DreamWorks Animation SKG are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Best Buy, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart Stores are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.