Microsoft gets more like grandpa every day. We love grandpa, although we’re not sure why he wears both suspenders and a belt, or why he occasionally shouts at the dog to stop stealing his caramels. But while senility is somewhat charming in grandpa, the same cannot be said about software providers. We shook our heads when we read this morning that Microsoft, eight years after the first Apple store opened in Virginia, was opening retail outlets, and that they'd hired execs from Wal-Mart to help them plan it. Wal-Mart! Oh, boy. As we all know, Apple stores are cool. The winding staircase. The open floor plan. The Genius Bar. Even the clerks with their hipster grins who seem to know a little too much about iPods. It all comes together in a way that makes a trip to get a computer part fun. We doubt such an improbable feat could be imitated by anyone, much less Microsoft.
How cool would a Microsoft store be in New York City? Andy Rooney spokesperson cool. Hamburger Helper for Valentine’s Day cool. Alex Rodriguez doing a "Just Say No" campaign cool. Gates and Co. will try to mimic the Apple buzz, but they’ll inevitably add their dorky spin.
• At the Apple store, visitors can stop by to check e-mail and watch YouTube. Microsoft also will allow visitors computer access, but only to balance their checkbooks using the new version of Excel, or to auto-correct résumés on Microsoft Word. And stop sitting so close to the monitor — you’ll burn your retinas out!
• At the Apple store, Apple geniuses offer classes on new applications for iMacs, iTunes and iPhones in a carefree and fun environment. Microsoft stores will also offer classes, although they will be graded on a curve, attendance will be 35 percent of your final score, and all results will go on your permanent record.
• Apple has stores in Soho, near Central Park, and in the meatpacking district. Microsoft will have stores in Murray Hill, the Manhattan Mall, Coney Island, and Florida. But the good news is, they'll all be equipped with those triple-threat Taco Bell–KFC–Pizza Hut outlets!