I just returned from my first trip to the newly opened Microsoft Store at Bellevue Square – the store itself sits just a few doors down from the Apple Store, but is vastly different. I have read in many places that the store is much like an Apple store and yadda yadda yadda – this could not be further from the truth.
The only way this store is like the Apple store is in how the employees dress, how nice they are, that it sells consumer electronics and that it offers similar services as the Apple Store. Everything else is vastly different.
What I Liked
- The sign for the store is great, just a Windows/ Microsoft logo and nothing else, very un-Microsoft like.
- The size of the store is huge, it is 5,374 square feet and makes the nearby Apple store seem tiny.
- The vast range of products that were one display and up and running.
- Not a BSOD in sight.
What I Did Not Like
- The wood floors were off putting – is this a tech store, or a lodge?
- The products were separated in some organized fashion, but there was no central phone table, instead the phones were scattered between the computers. This is just terrible and should not be done.
- There was a line, it had 3 people in it. They were waiting to play with a Kinect, yet the gates for the line were large enough to handle 60 people. (Note you did not have to wait in this line to get into the store)
- There was some random press conference thing going on in the back and it was so crowded I could neither hear no see much (and I am 6’3”). It was also odd because they were sitting behind a table of microphones, just seemed like the end of a sporting event, not a technology centered event.
- The products in the store felt like the vendors picked them with little curation from Microsoft. They really should focus better on showing a better range of products and better looking products.
- There were only two tablets that I found – the store was busy and confusing so I may have missed some.
- Also I only saw one Surface to play with, and from what I saw it was laggy as all hell when you made movements on it.
Windows Phone 7
I was really happy that I got to spend some time with two models of Windows Phone 7 devices. Some HTC jobber and a Samsung Focus. Overall Windows Phone 7 impressed the hell out of me, it may be the best piece of software I have seen Microsoft make in the last decade. The UI was impressive and responsive. The keyboard was comfortable, but both devices had a large screen than the iPhone so typing was hard for me – though I guess with a short amount of time you would have no problems typing on the device.
The browser was slow to load this site, but I don’t know if that was the network (the store was packed with people using the Internet) or the browser itself. I liked everything about the phone except the home screen. That home screen is nothing but ADD, I couldn’t find any logic to how it was laid out. What a joke.
Overall though I really was impressed with my short time playing with the phone, more impressed than I ever have been with an Android phone.
Sorry for the crap pictures BTW – I had not planned on taking any and apparently there was a lot less light in the store than I previously thought.