In spite of what appears to be lukewarm market reception towards the Surface RT, Microsoft does not seem ready to let up its promotional efforts just yet. This week, the tech giant announced it will be opening six more stores in the US, the new locations being Utah (City Greek Center), Texas (The Shops at La Cantera), California (Westfield San Francisco Centre), St Louis (St Louis Gallerina), Ohio (Beachwood Place), and Miami (Dadeland Mall). This brings the total number of “official” stores up to approximately 40, effectively furthering Redmond’s expansion plans as well as its goal to increase first-hand consumer exposure. If Microsoft is indeed serious about reproducing the success of Apple’s “retail store” model–as the promotional efforts increasingly suggest it will—it is not farfetched to expect that store count to increase substantially in the years to come. (As of today, Apple has already established about 390 official stores worldwide).
One other equally intriguing, although less confirmable, piece of news concerns Microsoft’s plans to release a possible Windows 9–or Windows Blue– platform during Summer 2013. The new system, according to an alleged “alpha tester” from Taiwan’s PCBeta forum, is designed to provide a much more a “customizable” experience, feature “resizable” tiles, and will impart on the traditional Windows interface the trademark Metro-style appearance. Currently, rumor has it that Microsoft may charge little to nothing for the upgrade, and may even offer updates on a much more regular basis, according a report from mobilenapps.
Even without considerable evidence, there is little question as to the benefits regular Windows upgrades will serve for Microsoft. Since the initial launch, one of the major gripes reviewers had with Windows 8, other than the considerable lack of downloadable app content, has been its unnecessarily steep learning curve. Regular user friendly tweaks and fixes, coupled with continually increasing app numbers, are among the many elements Microsoft will need to provide if it wants to accelerate the adaptation to its new platform.