In perhaps the most interesting news of the past few days, Microsoft revealed plans to open its own line of stores. Any news of new retail concepts in this environment is welcome news. And given Apple's success, it seems worth it for Microsoft to experiment. Still, it's difficult to imagine people gravitating to Microsoft stores in the same way that they do with Apple Stores. There's a whole culture around Apple that just doesn't exist for Microsoft. On the flip side, Microsoft does have the Xbox and video game stores--at least anecdotally--seem to be faring alright so far during this recession.
PC World has a tongue-in-cheek breakdown of 10 ways Microsoft Stores will differ from Apple Stores.
1) Instead of Apple's sheer walls of glass, Microsoft's stores will have brushed steel walls dotted with holes -- reminiscent of Windows security.
2) The store will have six different entrances: Starter, Basic, Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. While all six doors will lead into the same store, the Ultimate door requires a fee of $100 for no apparent reason.
3) Instead of a "Genius Bar" (as Apple provides) Microsoft will offer an Excuse Bar. It will be staffed by Microsofties trained in the art of evading questions, directing you to complicated and obscure fixes, and explaining it's a problem with the hardware -- not a software bug.
The full list is here.