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Revisiting the Microsoft Store To Spend Time with Surface

Living in suburban New York City, I decided not to hang out in town until midnight on the day of the launch of Windows 8 and the Windows RT-based Surface.

Instead, I stopped by the Microsoft Store 30 miles away at Long Island's Walt Whitman Mall, in Huntington Station, N.Y., which opened last month. I was there a few days earlier, as well, so I have an idea of how much floor-space was reallocated to the Surface.

A bird's-eye view suggests about one-third of the real estate dedicated to PCs feature the new Surface, Microsoft's own new device, which looks and functions much differently than any other tablet or PC on the market so far (see Redmond Channel Partner Editor in Chief Scott Bekker's review after spending about an hour with the new device at the launch.)

There was no midnight madness out here in the suburbs, though a sales rep told me that as of 5 p.m. Friday, the store had sold 200 devices. It wasn't sold out but the sales rep said at that pace, they would need more units to get through the weekend -- though I don't think he took into consideration that people would be hunkering down in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, aka "Frankenstorm."

Nevertheless, like Bekker, I too spent some time with the machine both at the launch and during my subsequent visit to the Microsoft Store on Friday. While I love the look and feel of the very capable Surface, its price is slightly higher than I'd like to see. With the optional keyboards, you're looking at a $620 or $630 investment before taxes. I shared my views with Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett, who made a good counterpoint when we met up during the launch event in New York.

"They're not going after the low-end. There's no flight to the bottom. It's very much a premium market," Gillett said. "Only Android is doing that. That said, I think the iPad mini is going to have much bigger holiday sales than these other devices."

I believe over time, Microsoft will offer various iterations of the Surface at various price points and configurations. The Surface Pro, due out in January, will include the full Windows 8. The current offering only runs Windows RT, meaning it can't run older Windows apps.

If you're a Microsoft partner and have access to a local Microsoft Store, you should stop by and check out the Surface and form your own opinion. Even better, get to know the folks at the store. Equipped with private rooms, they're a good venue to invite your business customers for seminars and other events.

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Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 29, 2012


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