With Windows 7 launching on Thursday, Microsoft already has a busy week ahead, but the company may add even more to its plate by opening its first retail store on the same day as its new operating system.
Microsoft has said officially only that the Microsoft Store will open in the fall, but as with any good tech rumor, the evidence is quickly thwarting the company's attempts at secrecy. Engadget has ads from the Arizona Republic newspaper hyping a grand opening at Scottsdale Fashion Square in Scottsdale, Arizona, at 10 a.m. on October 22 (the same day Windows 7 debuts). To create an Apple Store-like hysteria, Microsoft is reportedly giving away gift bags to the first 1000 visitors. In the early evening, pop singer Ashley Tisdale will perform.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a subtler approach is in order, with Microsoft "planning to quietly take the wraps off" the store "on or within days of the launch of the new operating system," according to an unnamed source.
So, why all the secrecy on Microsoft's end? I'd think the company would want all the buzz it can get this week, especially with Apple running an aggressive ad campaign to steal the spotlight.
It might be because, like many tech watchers, Microsoft's not really sure how this whole retail store idea's going to pan out. Last week, Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer said the plan is to "open a couple of stores, try to improve, open a couple more stores." Sure, Microsoft may be mimicking the Apple Store in aesthetics, and even reportedly hiring away some employees, but it's not duplicating Apple's cockiness.
Still, Microsoft needs a big bang with its first retail store, and it needs to happen on Windows 7 launch day. Even though only one location is set to open, the resulting buzz will point not just to the operating system itself, but to all the new computers running it. And that's really the whole point of the store in the first place.