New Microsoft and Best Buy “Store Within a Store” a Big Step Forward

Last week, Microsoft and Best Buy announced that they will be doing a Microsoft “store-within-a-store”. Essentially, Microsoft will pay Best Buy a large sum of money to “own” part of the store, in a way similar to Samsung and Apple.  Best Buy will still own the inventory, but Microsoft will own the merchandising, staffing-levels and training.  I believe this is a big step forward, and if executed well, helps solve many of the issues associated with Windows 8 PC experience.  Let me start with some perspective on Windows 8.

For anyone who has been in the industry a while, you know that a few things defines the Windows experience over the last 20 years:

  • primary keyboard and mouse UI
  • one, windowed Desktop environment with lots of “chrome”
  • start button (18 years ago)
  • multitasking of any app
  • backwards app and peripheral compatibility
  • desktops and notebook form factors

Windows 8 changed ALL of this:

  • primary UI display touch, secondarily mouse and keyboard
  • two environments; one Metro and secondly Desktop
  • no start button
  • every Desktop app multitasks, select Metro apps multitask
  • Desktop X86 backwards compatibility, ARM no app backwards compatibility, undetermined peripheral compatibility
  • desktops, notebooks, convertibles, detachables, tablets

In other words, everything changed.  The problem was, that Best Buy’s training and merchandising didn’t change dramatically to educate the buyer on the benefits of Windows 8 nor the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT.  After talking at length with Microsoft, here are my expectations:

  • computer will always be turned on and internet-connected
  • security devices won’t impede ability to try convertibles and detachables
  • more knowledgeable sales associates
  • touch devices clearly merchandised
  • more, higher-priced “hero” SKUs that are the best of the best

If executed well, I believe this will go a long way in mitigating the current buying experience issues inherent with Windows 8 and Windows RT.  The Austin store is one of the first stores to open and I will be there on opening night to gauge their level of execution.  And of course, will report back.

Published by

Patrick Moorhead

Patrick Moorhead was ranked the #1 technology industry analyst by Apollo Research for the U.S. and EMEA in May, 2013.. He is President and Principal Analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, a high tech analyst firm focused on the ecosystem intersections of the phone, tablet, PC, TV, datacenter and cloud. Moorhead departed AMD in 2011 where he served as Corporate Vice President and Corporate Fellow in the strategy group. There, he developed long-term strategies for mobile computing devices and personal computers. In his 11 years at AMD he also led product management, business planning, product marketing, regional marketing, channel marketing, and corporate marketing. Moorhead worked at Compaq Computer Corp. during their run to the #1 market share leader position in personal computers. Moorhead also served as an executive at AltaVista E-commerce during their peak and pioneered cost per click e-commerce models.

8 thoughts on “New Microsoft and Best Buy “Store Within a Store” a Big Step Forward”

  1. Microsoft should have done this last fall. If they had, Windows 8 would have had a much better launch at retails. Checking stores–BestBuy and others–in the weeks after the Win 8 launch, it was dispiriting how half-hearted the effort was.

    1. Microsoft already has its own stores, and I have read that they’re not very successful at moving product. For that reason, I am skeptical that locating a similar operation within a Best Buy store would have made a big difference. But time will tell.

  2. “If executed well, I believe this will go a long way in mitigating the current buying experience issues inherent with Windows 8 and Windows RT.”

    Agreed. This doesn’t mean that the masses WILL necessarily be persuaded to buy Windows 8 and Windows RT in large quantities, but this was a necessary PREREQUISITE to achieving that goal.

  3. The retail environment is going to have to change. Physical space must evolve into something else. Amazon is likely to put many retailers out of business if they do not evolve. Store within a store, is not the evolution I have in mind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *