Microsoft Research Stores

A proposal for what used to be the world’s largest technology company to leverage its future strengths


Microsoft is great at sales, great at licensing and awful at websites, getting products to consumers on time and listening.

Retail is not just about sales. Retail is a great medium of communicating with and empowering customers. Microsoft Research Stores would allow consumers to interact with the company's future. Giving them special insights and treats would create a unique experience not replicated by the Best Buys of the world.

The stores should consist of less boxes on shelves and more showcase of all the cool products that Microsoft Software powers and what Microsoft could be powering in the future. No need for secrecy; show the world that the best ideas and products people want to own are being cooked up in Microsoft labs across the world. If someone wants to buy a product, keep the most popular items in stock and have user-friendly interfaces on all the machines in store to facilitate buying over the internet - Microsoft is the best software company in the world, so Microsoft Research Stores should have custom software designed for: browsing and buying anything PC related, from laptops to accessories and spares; software; services - from any terminal in the store, easy User Interface should contains as few steps as possible between a customer and a complete transaction. Whichever team designs Microsoft’s own websites, should not be involved, but rather used as an example of how to create interfaces that are difficult to navigate, cluttered and tell users too much information that they do not want to know, and no information about what they do (a case in point is the new Internet Explorer 9 website. No real details about the features, but lots of pointless video. Internet Explorer 9 is about a clean interface, so why not have a website that looks as if you are in the super-duper new Internet Explorer 9 that looks so beautiful. i.e. showcase the product that you should be proud of)

The Research Stores should contain an auditorium with constant tutorials and tips seminars interspersed with attractive future development demos and Q&A sessions

Key points are to:

- Build excitement with the brand and showcase how the future is already embedded in Windows/Internet Explorer/Office

- Empower retail staff with "secret" knowledge so they speak with passion; give staff belief in MS products and they evangelise about them.

Other ideas to possibly consider:

- Product focused parody entrances/frontages:

- Indoor thrill ride - Blue Screen of Death - turn what was the bain of people's lives into something fun and revenue generating - appeal to kids

- Campaign launchpad - bring back Bill, Mojave like experiments

- Place products in unobstructed but easy to reach places for quick, impulse purchases

- Mobile tills - PDA with barcode reader and credit card pin reader and keypad, money belts - Bill Buxton - Head of Microsoft Research

These notes were written in 2007 and are now generally irrelevant because Apple has done/is doing them:

Windows mobile 7

Store to extend to tablets. Partner with book publishers, newspapers and record companies to sell not only normal products but a range of premium products. Music video specials, books with moving images. Harry potter style newspapers.

Steal the thunder from apple. Apple has one product. WM7 can support all phones and tablets.

Entice content owners with new, premium revenue. Bring classrooms into the digital world in a viable and affordable manner, and also making Windows the experience that kids grow up with and trust