Looking Inside Microsoft Store

Microsoft's Mission Viejo store is ideally located, and the company has fully capitalized on the advantage. Microsoft Store overlooks the mall's open-air pavilion, diagonally across from the food court, on the upper level. The store is easily visible from either of the mall's two levels. A large Microsoft Store banner rises above the large open space. Microsoft marketing placards adorn the second-level rails encircling the open-air area looking down on the lower level. Visibility is important in retail, and Microsoft Store has got plenty of it.

Like Apple Store, Microsoft's retail shop front is all glass (or perhaps plexiglass) that opens onto low, wooden tables displaying products. The floors appear to be wooden (even if they might not be). The layout is very reminiscent of Apple Store, with products displayed along both walls, as well as tables throughout. Along the left-side back wall there is software; games and gear can be found along the opposite back wall.

One of Microsoft Store's most distinctive features are video panels that go down the side walls to the back. In an Apple Store, colorful marketing material adorn the walls above products displayed below. By comparison, the video panels allow Microsoft to frequently change the content along the walls.

Down the store's center, towards the back is Microsoft's version of Apple's Genius Bar. There, Microsoft Gurus assist customers with technical service problems. Behind the Guru Bar is another Apple Store knock-off, a theater where Microsoft offers training and other tech activities.

In perhaps a sign of how much alike the Apple and Microsoft stores might look to regular consumers, I observed a woman with a MacBook at the Guru Bar early yesterday afternoon. I thought maybe she sought assistance with Macintosh Office. But looking over her shoulder, that's most certainly not what I saw on the Mac's Finder.

Microsoft Store was high energy on Black Friday. There is simply no better way to describe the chatter and excitement. Microsoft Store was extremely busy, like I've seen Apple Stores located in California, Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C. Microsoft Store employees kept the energy high by clapping for every customer buying a computer. The energy is as high outside the store as inside, where Microsoft has a Xbox 360 gaming display area. During my visit, I saw Microsoft Store employees and customers singing Karaoke together.

Microsoft Store employees clap whenever a customer purchases a Windows PC

Microsoft Store employees are real geeks

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