Retail stores could change Microsoft's game

If you build it, they will come.

OK, so "Field of Dreams" this ain't. But the news that Microsoft has hired a VP of Retail Stores (opens in new tab) [via ZDNet] and intends to dive into the retail market means this is a whole new ball game for Windows and Windows Mobile.

First, the man behind the curtain: David Porter has been hired away from Dreamworks Animation SKG, where he was head of worldwide product distribution.

“There are tremendous opportunities ahead for Microsoft to create a world-class shopping experience for our customers,” Porter said. “I am excited about helping consumers make more informed decisions about their PC and software purchases, and we’ll share learnings from our stores with our existing retail and OEM partners that are critical to our success.”

Now, peddling the wares: We've, er, mentioned before that the sheer volume of Windows Mobile devices can be a wee bit overwhelming. And as Malatesta just pointed out, it's getting to the point where phone manufacturers and carriers aren't even mentioning Windows Mobile, as if it's an anchor dragging the user into the briny deep.

But imagine a place where you can go and interact (read: play) with the latest Windows Mobile phones and — this is important here — see firsthand how Windows Mobile and the new versions of Windows and its upcoming cloud services work together. Yeah, this is hardly groundbreaking stuff in the retail world, so scoff if you want. But until now, Microsoft has relied on others to show off the fruits of its labor. Sure, Microsoft made the operating system, but it's been up to the (ever dwindling) big-box stores and late-night infomercials to give you any sort of a good look at what you'll be using.

Same goes for Windows Mobile. We've all stood there in a carrier's store or at a kiosk in a mall, but you're on their turf. Microsoft bringing you into its environment means you see its products on its terms. We're well aware that nary a brick has been laid yet. But a proper place to showcase Windows 7 and (eventually) Windows Mobile 7 could do great things for what we hope and pray expect to be an entirely new way of doing business for Microsoft.

Update: Did we totally call this, or what? Microsoft's Robbie Bach, from Techflash:

"We have plenty of distribution. These stores for us are about building our connection to customers, about building our brand presence, and about reaching out and understanding what works and what improves the selling experience. Apple, you would think of it as a volume distribution play. You should think of ours as much more of a brand and customer relationship investment, more than anything else."

Phil Nickinson

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!

  • OMG this is so embarrassing, I almost feel bad for the people that come up with these ideas. Is there any way that Microsoft could become even more out of touch then they already are? I'm not sure what will be more sad to watch, the schlemiels heading in to work at these cardboard cutouts or the fogies clueless enough to shop in them. Why do these fools continue to put so much money and effort into everything but the actual products? Merchandise is much easier to market when they it isn't so shoddy. Microsoft is so incredibly lost it's almost hard to believe.
  • Can you guys ban the moron above (Tanja)?
    He's been posting the same crap over and over again in the comments. (and you already erased some of them)
  • I think that Microsoft with its money and marketing team can make this a work. Do not get me wrong Apples do have a place in the world of graphics but Microsoft is here to stay. I want to know what capital would be neded to open one of the 1st Microsoft stores. I live in Ma. and technology it huge and is the driving force in New England.