TUAW readers know from a series of posts we've run over the years that Microsoft has been opening self-branded stores throughout the U.S., usually just a stone's throw away from well-trafficked Apple Stores. Fortune's JP Mangalindan took a metaphorical bullet for the sake of a story and visited both the Microsoft Store and Apple Store in Santa Clara, California. What the reporter found was that while Microsoft is doing its best to emulate the look, feel and success of the Apple retail outlet, there are differences in the way that things are done.
Mangalindan obviously had fun with his visits, listing the number of customers (14 at the Microsoft Store, 40 at the Apple Store), the number of employees on the floor (11 for Microsoft, 35 for Apple), and such questions as "Employees who said I wouldn't like the laptop I was looking at" (1 at the Microsoft Store, 0 at the Apple Store).
My favorite part of the article was the response Mangalindan received from employees at each store when he told them that he was also looking at Macs -- "We're priced more competitively. What about this Ultrabook from ASUS? It's slim, light, and sexy" -- or at the Apple Store, also looking at PCs -- "Bro, they may be cheaper, but Apple's all about quality. Our customer service can't be beat. [fist bump]"
While we've seen no definitive word on exactly how successful Microsoft's retail strategy is, we know that Microsoft is being almost fanatical about moving into the retail arena. TUAW has heard multiple accounts from Apple Store employees who have been approached by Microsoft to switch teams and go to work at Microsoft Stores; in some cases, the Microsoft offers have reflected dramatic bumps in salary over the comparable positions at the Apple stores.
Have you had a good, bad or indifferent experience at either an Apple or Microsoft Store? Let your fellow readers know about it in the comments below.