Microsoft Gurus at Best Buy to Pimp Windows

Microsoft Gurus at Best Buy to Pimp Windows

It appears that Microsoft is doing a lot more than having Jerry Seinfeld munching churros and going shoe shopping with Bill Gates to help bolster the company's image. Part of Microsoft's $300 million marketing campaign includes placing Microsoft customer service representatives in select consumer electronics retail outlets across the U.S.

Similar in nature to "Apple Geniuses," Microsoft will be placing 155 "Microsoft Gurus" at Best Buy, Circuit City, and similar stores before the end of this year--presumably in time for the holiday shopping season. While the Microsoft Gurus will "be answering questions about PCs and Microsoft products, as well as giving demos of how the company's products work together," unlike Apple Geniuses, the Microsoft Gurus will not answer tech support questions. Tom Pilla, Microsoft's general manager of corporate communications, compared the experience customers will receive from Microsoft Gurus to that of they would expect from personal shoppers at a high-end, department store, such as Nordstrom. Microsoft's goal is to have "Windows-branded sales environments and store-within-a-store concepts."


The first Jerry Seinfeld Windows commercial
(Video requires Microsoft Silverlight;
alternatively, you can watch it here)

"Pilla said the campaign is meant to show consumers the interconnectedness of Microsoft's Windows products - which include an operating system for computers, a mobile operating system for smart phones and Windows Live online services - and how they can be used with various devices.

'There's an ease-of-use I don't think we've done a great job of communicating when (customers are) using Windows and when they have Windows in their lives,' he said."


In other words, the Microsoft Gurus are there to help pimp how various Microsoft products (especially Windows Vista) can potentially make people's lives more efficient and easier. Apparently Microsoft has already tested this out as a pilot program with 25 customer service representatives in stores in the U.S. and Europe since last October. The Microsoft Gurus will not earn commission on any sales they help foster. If the project is deemed to be a success, Microsoft plans to expand it even further next year in more stores with more customer service representatives.

Behind the scenes, Microsoft has recently created a number of initiatives for working "with PC and device manufacturers to create hardware better-suited to deliver the kinds of experiences with Windows that customers want":

"The Windows team is putting in place an objective set of quality tests for PCs that span performance, reliability and security, working with manufacturers such as Acer, Asus, Dell, Founder, Fujitsu, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, Wortmann and Packard Bell."

The Retail Experience Center on the Microsoft Campus
(Credit: Microsoft)

Bill Veghte, Senior Vice President, Online Services & Windows Business Group, says the fruit of these labors will start paying off with a new "wave of PCs" hitting the shelves this fall. Microsoft claims to have worked with these manufacturers to speed up system start up and shutdown times, and well as improve sleep and resume times.

"Microsoft will feature these PCs at its Windows.com Web site, which is also undergoing a thorough transformation of its own. In addition to pointing consumers to specific PCs and driving them toward the right hardware for their unique needs, the new Web site will feature more consumer-oriented help and how-to videos designed to help build affinity for Windows and awareness of underutilized features and capabilities."


Between the new ads (of which Jerry Seinfeld is rumored to be making $10 million), the in-store Microsoft Geniuses Gurus, the new initiatives with systems manufacturers, and the revamp of the Windows.com Web site, it's easy to see where the $300 million is going. It's also easy to see why Microsoft is making this push now--especially with news stories such as today's BusinessWeek "HP's 'End Run' Around Windows" story and yesterday's New York Times story titled "Does Windows Still Matter?," becoming more common. Vista has not only been getting a lot of bad press since its release, but some companies have even avoided upgrading to Vista and less than one out of 12 developers claim to be developing Vista-specific applications. It looks like Microsoft has its work cut for it... About $300 million worth of work, apparently.

Additional information for this story culled from the Associated Press
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I am going to go actively hunting for these guys. I've got 25+ years experience with computers. Mwahahahahaa.. er... I mean, heh.

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They sure do try hard for a monopoly.

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It is always fun to screw with so called gurus by asking them complex questions that have no idea how to answer when they are with a customer and then expose them as being dumb lol.  Its so funny i did this in best buy.  I happened to walk by going to look at the LCD monitors and overheard this salesman say that "no you dont need RAM, that a bigger hard drive will give you better performance.  I couldnt help myself, i turned around and asked him in a loud voice, so i guess you would try to strap a 5th wheel to a ford focus then, following your logic of RAM not mattering?  After 2 min of explaining what RAM is the customer went back to browsing while i had to spend another 10 telling the salesman the same thing till he kinda got it.

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Gonna be some thing to see what they decide to do on these demo's

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Instead of hunting people down to expose them as "dumb" why not simply take pride in knowing that you do in fact possess more knowledge than said associate -- no offense but it just makes you look overly arrogant that you can "pwn" some random part-time, 16yr old just working at a retail store to pay for car insurance. Granted many of the associates may not be the most knowledgable people of their respective departments -- in your case you seemed to have caught a bottom-tier of ONE person...However, many are much more knowledgeable than the customers that are purchasing and can at least guide them...

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ice91785:
Instead of hunting people down to expose them as "dumb" why not simply take pride in knowing that you do in fact possess more knowledge than said associate -- no offense but it just makes you look overly arrogant that you can "pwn" some random part-time, 16yr old just working at a retail store to pay for car insurance. Granted many of the associates may not be the most knowledgable people of their respective departments -- in your case you seemed to have caught a bottom-tier of ONE person...However, many are much more knowledgeable than the customers that are purchasing and can at least guide them...
 

So in a nutshell you're saying: Respect them for what they do know/give them the benefit of the doubt.

Where's the fun in that? :P

 

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Either you missed the part where a) I'm evil, or b) the entire point of these guys is to sell more *Microsoft* products to people, rather than the one that best solves their problem. Here's how it will go 90% of the time: "upgrade to Vista to get rid of that virus or trojan forever!". Or, do you think they'll recommend a $40 virus scanner by another company for which they get no commision?

Basically, these guys are tools to help Microsoft block the finally rising threat that Apple and others pose to their monopoly. MS has found they can't get the other options out of the store without the DoJ jumping on them, so now they're putting people directly in there to steer you toward their solution and treat you with disdain when you don't.

If they leave me alone, then fine - I'll let bygones be. But, if they come up to harass me into buying "their preferred product", or start giving customers around me horrible advise...

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3vi1:

 But, if they come up to harass me into buying "their preferred product", or start giving customers around me horrible advise...

 

Then nothing will have changed from the BestBuy buying experience.

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