Microsoft’s opened the US version of the new online Microsoft Store yesterday and given some of the effusive commentary which greeted the blogged announcement from Microsoft’s Trevin Chow, one would think that Microsoft did not already have an online store called Windows Marketplace which offers Microsoft and third party hardware and software including downloads of some software purchases. Paul Thurrott puts it rather crisply:
And the only big difference I can see between that site and the new Microsoft Store is that the latter only sells Microsoft software and hardware, while the former also offers third party products. So why all the hoo-hah over Microsoft’s new store? Because most of the people who write blogs and news articles in this industry have no understanding of the topic they’re covering. Yeah, I said it. Even Microsoft got it wrong: In a posting to the Windows Experience Blog announcing the store, a Microsoft employee described the new storefront as "the first online store where you can purchase Microsoft products straight from the source." Which is curious, because I purchased Microsoft AutoCollage from the Windows Marketplace about two weeks earlier.
I’ve been a Marketplace customer myself so I was also a bit puzzled by the hoopla and more so by Microsoft’s lack of explanation. That came later today via Dawn Kawamoto at CNET:
"With the launch of the Microsoft Store, Windows Marketplace will shut down as an e-commerce site. Marketplace will transition from an e-commerce and referral site to a Web page that will refer customers to sites such as Microsoft Store, Windows Vista Compatibility Center, and other appropriate destinations," a Microsoft spokesman stated.
So the big news is actually that Microsoft is ending its experiment in selling third party items in an online store in favor of a Microsoft only effort. Just don’t look for any bargains though, since the formal announcement says all items will be listed at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) which is hardly competitive in the online retail world.