Microsoft and Apple: The roof tile analogy

The Microsoft Surface tablet needs the Microsoft Store -- or something just like it. The hey day of CompUSA-like big box retailers is fading fast.

Brooke Crothers
Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
2 min read

Roof tile? That's over on aisle 9.

Stretch the analogy a bit. Windows tablets? They're on aisle 9, next to the laptop bags.

I could stretch the analogy even more, where the buyer gets lost amid a sea of generic Spanish roof tiles like Tom Anderson (the early version of Hank Hill) at Home Labyrinth.

Nobody has to ask that question about the iPad. It's front and center at the Apple store.

So, Redmond needs the Microsoft Store -- or similar boutique storefronts where its product can stand out.

On Friday, the Kansas City Star reported that people actually lined up in the wee hours of the morning for the opening of a new Microsoft store.

Peddle Surface at Best Buy and you lose that kind of focus on Microsoft products.

But wait, isn't this all part of Microsoft getting into PC hardware and screwing its partners? I call it a survival strategy in the age of Apple. The glory days of the Compaq, Packard Bell et al Windows PC-o-rama at CompUSA are long gone.

So, the Surface-plus-Microsoft stores is a good start.

For the first time in years I'm actually excited about a Windows product. I'll be there when Surface arrives (at my local Los Angeles Microsoft store). Will I buy it? Who knows but finding one should be pretty easy.

Updated at 6:00 p.m. PDT: clarifying that some people -- maybe more than some -- were waiting because they were getting wristbands allowing them "premier" views at a Blake Shelton show.