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Windows 10 Launch Puts Spotlight on Its Retail Stores

The Windows 10 launch Wednesday put its 110 retail stores worldwide in the spotlight as Microsoft decided to celebrate with local charities it supports such as The Girl Scouts, Habitat for Humanity and the YouthSpark Summer Camp program, among others. While the Microsoft Stores are intended for consumers, partners and IT pros often come in to peruse the store's wares.

An hour before yesterday's opening of the Microsoft Store at Roosevelt Field, in the New York City suburb of Garden City, store manager Scott Goeke spent a few minutes to chat about the preparations for the Windows 10 launch and some of the expectations he has. Until recently Goeke managed the Microsoft Store in Santa Clara but took the opportunity to return east when an opening came up to manage the Garden City, N.Y. location.

What have you been doing to gear up for the Windows 10 launch?
There's been a ton of excitement from our employees and customers. Our main job is to harness that and make sure we really deliver. We've been working on training our employees for months now, making sure that they have the ability to properly recognize and show off what's going on to our customers and show off all the cool features of Windows 10 and really be the experts.

Have customers been asking questions about what to do about Windows 10 -- should they wait -- and those kinds of questions?
It's not so much about should they wait, they've been coming in ever since we announced it earlier this year. Very rarely are we hearing "should I get it?" It's more "when can I get it," which is really cool for us because that's exactly the kind of customer event we want have for Windows 10.

How are you dealing with these upgrades?
We have a well-oiled plan as to how we work with each one of these upgrades. Our employees are ready to roll. If they have Vista and they're looking to upgrade, they have the ability to purchase Windows 10. But from our initial stuff getting checked in -- we've been checking in computers for the last few days and comparing them so people can have them today -- it's been all Windows 7 and Windows 8.  Our goal here is to make the experience for customers as easy as possible. A lot of people don't know but we offer a ton of free services and the upgrade is a key one of those. We're not looking to charge customers for that. That's a last-case scenario. Most of our customers who are going to be walking in are going to have a great experience.

The online upgrade process has been slow in the early hours of the release.
It's a rollout. We haven't been given specifics and times and places where people are going to get it but anybody can come in here right now. We have the bits for it. We can get it on your computer for free. If you have other computers that you're not sure about or are not running well, we can fix those up for free as well. We are trying to expose our customers to all the cool services that Microsoft specifically has to offer. I think it's fair to say that the Microsoft Store is going to provide the absolute best Windows 10 upgrade experience you can find anywhere.

Are you going to initially try to persuade customers to purchase new Windows 10-based computers?
It's going to be a case-by-case basis. It's certainly not our mission to drive devices exclusively. We're going to assess each computer that comes in on a case-by-case basis. There's a system of rating based on what capabilities a computer has and what operating system it has, if it's full of viruses or malware or things like that. We're going to give them the options that they have.

When customers come in for the free upgrade, are you advising them to reimage the machine with a clean install?
No, it's a bootstrap install. It leaves your old Windows image on there and it holds your information on to your new image.

It appears everyone on line is here to see Abby Wambach. No one I spoke with seemed interested in Windows 10.
We have Abby Wambach, which is awesome, but I'm expecting a great kickoff and I think it will escalate into the weekend and beyond. I know we have a significant number of appointments to get their upgrades.

Do customers ask a lot about using Windows 10 for business?
When we talk to business customers, the common thing I hear is "we're still on Windows 7 and it's time to get something new so I'm sure my IT person is going to be doing this." That's the common theme that we're hearing. They're just kind of under the assumption that this is the answer their company has been waiting for.

Many machines are already able to run Windows 10 but, given the quick release of the bits, it's mostly the new machines that will take advantage of new features like Windows Hello. Are you going to let customers, particularly those who are power users that they may want to wait for the newer machines to come out later in August and into October?
Absolutely. If I'm talking about giving the best experience possible, we have to be very realistic with our customers and help them understand that there are certain features of Windows 10 that not all hardware can take advantage of. People need to understand that this is a service that will continue updating, unlike Windows in the past.

When people do buy new systems, what has been the situation regarding the Office 365 upsell. Do most customers do that?
Oh yes. Office 365 has been doing phenomenal for us. When people start to understand really what's in it for them and the OneDrive storage opportunity that comes with Office 365. We have Office 2016 coming out.

Do some balk at the idea of an annual subscription?
Of course that conversation comes up. For us it's helping them understand. And individual licenses are still the right solutions for some people.

What's your favorite new feature in Windows 10?
The Start menu is my thing. I love the fact that it's back, but more importantly that I have my Live Tiles on my Start menu, so I have the best of both worlds.

Do you think those who have avoided Windows 8 because they didn't like the idea of Live Tiles, balking when they see that even though the Start menu is back that the Live Tiles are still there?
You know what? They see it and say "I didn't expect those to be on there." Then they look at it and understand if you show them what they can do with them.  They say it makes sense. So I don't foresee them balking at that. The way it works and how easy it is to move it around and make it personalized, I think people will be perfectly fine with them.

Once you go through that core new interface with them, what's the next feature in Windows 10 you emphasize?
Microsoft Edge. Showing them the new browser and showing them the reading options and the inking options -- they think is pretty cool.

Have you been playing up Cortana?
That's usually number three for me. I see a lot of my employees after they go to the Start menu that's their number two. It's a great tool to make it more personal. That's what we want people to understand, that it's a personalized experience.

Do you talk about Continuum or are customers not interested in that?
It comes up with certain customers. The ones who are power users are the ones having that conversation or the people with the 2-in-1 experience.

What's your level of confidence as to how many Windows Universal apps will be there?
I'm very, very confident about it. Hearing [CEO] Satya [Nadella] at MGX at our Global Exchange [employee conference] a couple of weeks ago gives me that confidence. I came here from Silicon Valley and over the last couple of years, I've had the opportunity to build some pretty good relationships with customers and understand where they're at in their journey and I see the level of confidence they have which gives me a heck of a lot of confidence as well.

And these are developers who were skeptical about Windows in the past?
They're the whole spectrum but there are plenty who are skeptical that weren't developing for Windows that are developing for iOS and Android. When we started making these announcements and they started seeing what the capabilities are, they were excited about it too. And they're some of the most skeptical people in the world. So if they're excited about it, I have no reason not to be.

Even if Windows Phone doesn't gain critical mass, which appears to be the case at this point, are you confident that Windows as a platform has a strong future?
Oh yes. The size and scope of what we're doing here, this is a huge rollout. This is the best Windows we've ever made. It's a free upgrade, there's no reason it's not going to get there.

How many customers come in asking about the Surface Pro 4?
It's a common conversation. My answer is "I wish I had an idea."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 07/30/2015 at 10:45 AM


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