Microsoft Store in Mission Viejo

Last night on our way to a birthday party at the Derby Deli & Dueling Piano Bar – Lisa and I stopped in at The Shops at Mission Viejo mall to kill some time. Traffic from San Diego was a little hectic so I figured that some time spend doing some retail therapy might do some good.

As we walked into the mall I was confronted with the early signs of Christmas and while the prospect of walking the mall with “deck the halls” at my back brought a grimace to my face but the little kids running by the well lit displays made me remember what the holidays are all about.

Walking down the main corridor of the mall I saw a huge white banner that read “Microsoft Store – Now Open”. I guess I have been disconnected from the platform for quite a while because I did not even realize that Microsoft had store but I have heard so many great things about Windows 7 I just had to check it out. I half expected the store to be a bland uninspiring cheap knockoff of an Apple Store, but WOW was I in for a surprise.

From the moment you first step through the door you can feel it, something is special, something is electric in the air. So many smiling faces, so many people engaged and fully committed to the experience and NO I am not just taking about the employees the nearly sixty shoppers in the store were having a riveting experience interacting with what is clearly the future.

Words really can’t do the experience justice so here are some videos that I created on my new Kodak ZI8 in 1080p mode.

Project Natal is the next level of user interaction with a computer. I had not even heard about it, I guess like so many other things Microsoft it looks to be game and life changing.

We have all seen the previews of the interactive table but I actually had the chance to “interact” with it. The table uses 3D bar codes to determine what object has been laid down. I tried taking a picture of the bar code with my phone and displaying the picture to see if I could clone it, but no luck there.

Mid way through our visit the entire store broke out into song. Now I have seen this gimmick before at Coldstone Creamery and I know how they have been criticized in the media for it, but here it did not seem forced nor contrived, I would honestly say that this was the staff letting go, having some fun and not taking the brand all to seriously.

I was absolutely floored by this experience, Microsoft has made a bold move to capture new market share. I ordered a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate edition – I have been a hard core Mac person for the past five years, I completely bypassed the Windows Vista experience but something is telling me that I am at a precipice looking directly into the future. Oh, and I just canceled my order for the 27inch iMac quad, I need a little time to think it over.
Its easy to see that Microsoft primarily is a software company committed to changing the world through technical innovation and that Apple is a hardware company that is changing the world through design innovations. They need each other to push the limits of their own visions.