Gadgetress’ weekly Stump the PC Club answer guy Ed Schwartz ventured into the crowded new Microsoft store that opened in Mission Viejo today. We already know what Apple fanatics think about the store and we saw that many of the folks in line overnight were just waiting for the free rock concert (watch the opening video).
Now, Schwartz, he’s a loyal PC guy. I was curious to know what he thought about the store. He’s not anti-Apple, by the way. He admits to venturing inside the Apple store occasionally to see what’s new
Schwartz stopped by the large, bright store around 11:30 a.m. today because, “Oh, curiosity. That’s my thing. I just want to know what’s going on,” he said.
Plus, he said, any store’s first day is likely to be full staffed. He immediately went to find help to get some readers’ Windows 7 questions answered. This is where he learned the difference between the blue shirts and the red shirts. If you have a tech question, ask someone wearing a red shirt.
“It took me three employees before I found one who could confirm some Windows 7 questions. They all had blue shirts until I got to the guy with the red shirt,” he said.
Schwartz couldn’t help but compare the Microsoft store with the Apple store, starting with the shirts. There’s also Microsoft’s Answer Desk, which is very similar to Apple’s Genius Bar. Anyone can bring in their Zune or other Microsoft-related device and get help. There are also free lessons and there are special one-on-one sessions where for $99, you can get one hour of face time with a Microsoft expert every week for one year (that’s the same price as Apple’s One To One sessions).
He spotted laptops from HP, Dell and Lenovo, but that’s it. There were netbooks from Asus, Samsung and others, and all-in-one PCs from Sony. But what about Fujitsu, the brand he uses?
“I asked why not Fujitsu and all the smaller Asian PC makers? They told me that these are the ones people like the most,” he said.
A bummer of sorts. I had been hoping the Microsoft store would showcase every PC out there so potential users could touch, feel and see what else is out there beyond the big-name brands.
Overall, Schwartz enjoyed the Microsoft experience. He felt he was among fans who were actually buying stuff and not just waiting for freebies or free concert tickets to teeny-bop pop singer Justin Bieber. (By the way, the freebies were meh. Someone showed him a Microsoft water bottle and he snagged a Bing T-shirt.
The store is offering free PC tuneups for a limited time, regularly $49.) But the best thing: Computers were made to sell especially at the Microsoft store so they weren’t loaded down with unnecessary freeware.
“I can tell you what you can’t find at Best Buy that you can find here. You can buy a PC that has no trialware or crapware. They brag that our PCs are set up to go to work. You don’t have to download anything or add stuff. You won’t find 12 versions of McAfee on it. That’s a big deal. The average user may not even know all of that. A lot of people get a PC and don’t worry about all the extra stuff until it starts annoying them,” he said.
And he knows it well. Besides answering questions for our weekly “Stump the PC Club” column, Schwartz teaches computer classes and helps consumers fix their PCs. He said he often gets call from people saying, “What happened to Office on my computer?” The answer? They only had a 60-day trial version.
One nice feature all PCs purchased at the store include: Windows Security Essentials so there’s no need to install antivirus software.
Read reporter Niyaz Pirani’s earlier coverage of the new Microsoft store: