Microsoft's big day

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Well here we are. Microsoft's big day. Windows 7 arrives and I for one will be very happy to say goodbye and good riddance to Vista. I just wish Microsoft had sent out my order ahead of time so that it would arrive today, but sadly today is when orders ship from MS warehouses, at least for those of us who took advantage of the sweet pre-order deal back in June.

But it isn't just Windows 7 that's news today. Last February we learned that Microsoft was planning on opening a chain of retail stores, and today is the ribbon cutting for store #1, in Scottsdale AZ. The grand opening is at 10 am with gift bags for the first 1000 people through the door and later in the day (5 pm) "pop superstar Ashley Tisdale" is performing. Apparently people started lining up yesterday. Who knew Ashley Tisdale was such a draw?

So now Apple retail stores will have some competition from Microsoft (assuming all goes well with the MS retail shops). But what about online? Well http://store.microsoft.com got a face-lift overnight, too, and now you can buy PCs from a variety of manufacturers directly from Microsoft. The PC section is laid out pretty nicely, with lists of attributes down the left side (select by price range, manufacturer, etc) and results that update without a page load as you change your selections. A real quick check of pricing indicates prices that are OK but not great. You can still save some cash by shopping around but I guess we shouldn't expect Microsoft to be a deep discounter. The other downside? As of now there aren't a ton of models to choose from. In fact in the "Desktop" category there's just one! I expect selection will grow over time. The big question is: will they have to take the store offline to add new products, like Apple does?

Apple clearly timed its mega-Mac refresh to try to overshadow the launch of Windows 7, but (in my opinion) with limited success. Microsoft has managed to spin the Windows 7 launch into kind of a big deal, and the store news just adds to the hype. So clearly today is a big day for Microsoft. But what about for you? Are you excited to get your hands on the retail version of Windows 7? Looking forward to your first trip to a Microsoft store? As always, comments are welcome and encouraged.

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