After choosing Sydney to host its first flagship retail store outside the United States, Microsoft opened the 550 square metre space in Pitt Street Mall to much fanfare this week.
Journalists who had covered rival Apple’s various store openings in Australia in recent years immediately noticed the similarities almost immediately: from the glass façade and lit Perspex stairs, to the manner in which store staff celebrated the opening.
“There was chanting, cheering, a countdown, clapping, high-fives, and dancing,” The Sydney Morning Herald noted in its report.
“If it weren't for promotional material surrounding the launch of Microsoft's Pitt Street Mall store in Sydney's CBD … one might have mistaken its launch for that of an Apple store.”
“Wasn't the very concept of a glamorous flagship store, where customers can go in and explore products without any pressure to buy them, stolen from its rival Apple?” The Australian Financial Review chimed in.
What Microsoft made no secrets in borrowing from Apple was their former store leader Nick Wells, who opened Apple’s nearby flagship Sydney store and three suburban stores in his time with the Cupertino giant.
The store itself is divided into a number of areas.
One is what Microsoft calls the “Answer Desk”, where it provides “free services include Windows 10 assessment, extended diagnostics on any device, software repair or support, virus and malware removal, PC tune-ups, and more.”
As others have noted, virus and malware removal in particular can be costly for consumers, and the PC shops that presently supply these types of services to Windows users are unlikely to be impressed to see it given away for free.
The flagship also contains a community theatre for training, an Xbox lounge and “immersive, high definition video walls … to engage directly with visitors while streaming videos, images and information.”
Crowds waited patiently for the curtain to fall on the flagship's grand opening.
The curtain comes down.
With the doors finally open...
... The crowd started streaming in.
... More high-fives, and the odd handshake.