Microsoft store coverage: Windows into media’s Apple bias?

Technology, Xbox 360
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(Paul Connors, AP)

Yesterday’s grand opening of Microsoft’s first retail store at Scottsdale Fashion Square, and the accompanying release of the new operating system Windows 7 — generated a lot of media buzz. And, I’m afraid, some media bias.

I considered joining the hundreds of people who waited in line, some as long as 12 hours, to get their first look at the software giant’s first retail operation.

Then I realized that would mean standing in line with hundreds of people. Or at least dealing with corporate PR types on their Big Day.

But lo and behold, I found a way to blog about it anyway.

On the drive home Thursday, listening to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered like the loyal liberal media elite-type that I am, I was surprised at just how harshly host Melissa Block was grilling Microsoft representative Mika Krammer. Today I was wondering whether I imagined it, so I asked some colleagues. One of them had heard the same report and was also left with the impression that it went too far.

Block started — fairly, I think — by asking about Microsoft’s lack of signature products in line with Apple’s iConic line of iMacs, iPods and iPhones, to which Krammer replied that Windows is an iconic product, along with Xboxes and Zunes. (Xbox is definitely iconic, but Zune is no iPod.) The questions just became more belligerent as the interview progressed and the Microsoft rep refused to admit her company’s patent inferiority:

  • “You know, when I think of Apple, I think of, you know, iconic products, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone. I don’t think about that so much with Microsoft. Do you think that’s part of the hurdle here?”
  • “And would you say, as you walk into the Microsoft store, does it look kind of like an Apple store?”
  • “And what can you get, do you think, from a Microsoft store if you’re a consumer that you couldn’t get if you walked into another retailer, like Best Buy, selling your products?”
  • “Ms. Krammer, do you worry that Microsoft is kind of late to this party, that Apple’s been there long before?”
  • “There has been, you probably know, some snarkiness online and elsewhere. I was reading a column from earlier this year in PC World talking about what will be going on at these new stores, and the writer said: Store hours are undetermined. At any given time, the store mysteriously shuts down instantaneously for no apparent reason. No word yet on what happens to customers inside. This is the image problem, I guess, with Microsoft.”

Now, I don’t know what platform the rank-and-file at NPR uses, and it doesn’t really matter. While it’s long been conventional wisdom that Macs are the computer of choice for “creative types,” I’ve found that you can pretty much get the same results from either a Mac or a PC these days. Anyone who tells you otherwise has either too much time on their hands or a stake in one of the companies. But it sure appears to me that Block or her producer has issues with Microsoft, and she let them seep into her interview with Krammer.

One commenter on the story sums it up:

What a snotty little interview. Isn’t Microsoft-goading/bashing kind of old? Where was the substance?

Substance? In a story about a global corporation entering an arena it’s never tried before? How absurd! Besides, Apple has the market cornered on substance. And style. Microsoft should just give up — it’ll never catch on anyway.

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