Microsoft opened its new flagship retail store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Monday. At first glance, you might think it looks an awful lot like a certain other tech company's flagship retail stores, including this one just a few blocks up the street. But, according to a Microsoft spokesman I spoke with at the grand opening, you'd be wrong. The new Microsoft Store is very different from an Apple Store, and in multiple ways. For instance, the spokesman pointed out:
1. The Microsoft Store has different products from an Apple Store.
It's difficult to argue with this one. In an Apple Store, you'll find rows of tables stocked with MacbBooks, iPads, iPhones, and related accessories. In contrast, the Microsoft Store features rows of tables stocked with Surface Books, Surface tablets, Lumia phones, and related accessories.
2. The Microsoft Store has different colors than an Apple Store.
Apple Stores are famously minimal in their interior design, with blond wood display tables set against a silver and white background. The new Microsoft Store, on the other hand, has somewhat darker wood tables, and the walls feature a lot of blue, and a few other primary colors, in addition to white. Imagine a Uniqlo, but for computers. And whereas Apple Stores often feature all-glass facades, the Microsoft Store's facade is only mostly glass.
3. The Microsoft Store's help desk is called by a different name.
The spokesman I talked to was at pains to point out that a unique feature of the Microsoft Store called the Answer Bar. It's basically a giant desk near the back of the store where you can go to talk to a Microsoft representative about the problems you're having with Microsoft products. This should by no means be confused with Apple's Genius Bar, which—oh, I give up.