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Microsoft will deploy "Gurus" to stores to help customers interested in purchasing a new PC or learn more about Windows products

Microsoft's recent $300 million marketing push includes Bill Gates working alongside comedian Jerry Seinfeld in a series of commercials. Microsoft reinvigorated marketing efforts also include customer-service representatives who will be sent to Best Buy, Circuit City and other brick and mortar retail stores.  

The Redmond, Washington-based company plans to have 155 "Microsoft Gurus" deployed to retailers across the country throughout 2008 and will expand the program depending on its success at the end of the year.  According to Microsoft general manager of corporate communications, Tom Pilla, the customer reps would be responsible for helping answer questions regarding Microsoft and PCs offered in the stores.

Rather than pay each guru on commission, they'll be graded according to the customer experience by customers, who will chat with the gurus and learn more about Microsoft products and the PC industry.

Since October 2007, Microsoft has had a similar program with 25 service employees in several stores in the United States and in Europe.  The company did not say how successful its small pilot program has been among shoppers.

Apple has a similar service, dubbed the "Genius Bar," located in many Apple retail stores, with Apple employees available to help customers with their Macs or iPods.  Each Apple Genius Bar also helps offer on-site technical support for customers who purchased something and are having problems with it.

Microsoft has been desperate to get consumers interested in Windows Vista, which users have not been eager to adopt.  The Microsoft Gurus and its $10 million for Seinfeld's services are the latest tactics as Microsoft tries to stop losing ground to the OS X and Linux operating systems.

The first Microsoft commercial, which aired last Thursday during the opening game of the NFL season, was met with confusion and disappointment among those in the computer industry.

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By omnicronx on 9/8/2008 3:41:18 PM , Rating: 2
I already have my BestBuy geeksquad.. whats more qualified than that?

RE: why?
By KillerInTheRye on 9/8/2008 3:46:59 PM , Rating: 5
A toiletbrush.

RE: why?
By Nik00117 on 9/8/2008 3:57:23 PM , Rating: 2
Don't give them too much credit.

RE: why?
By Aquila76 on 9/8/2008 8:54:28 PM , Rating: 2
A toilet brush used to unclog a 'green monster' in Fenway? Nah, Geek Squad would still be more full of $h1t.

RE: why?
By Mitch101 on 9/8/2008 4:34:40 PM , Rating: 3
HEY HEY HEY. Geeksquad is a Brilliant idea. I wish I could be cruel enough to Charge people $400.00 just to tell them their hard drive is dead then offer to charge them 30% more than newegg and another $400.00 to reload their OS and maybe sell them some useless AV software as well or a $90.00 monster power surge protector. Heck I would need only one sucker I mean customer a month.

RE: why?
By lagomorpha on 9/10/2008 4:16:34 AM , Rating: 2
"30% more than newegg"

Come now this is best buy we're talking about. Try 100%-150% more than newegg. 1500% more for cables

RE: why?
By joeld on 9/9/2008 9:07:55 AM , Rating: 2
The Nerd Herd

RE: why?
By Locutus465 on 9/9/2008 10:15:39 AM , Rating: 2
lol.... this post is the laugh of the day!

RE: why?
By Fracture on 9/9/2008 3:13:15 PM , Rating: 3
I already have my BestBuy geeksquad.. whats more qualified than that?

Many, many people missed your sarcasm.

And this makes me sad.

I worked for Best Buy for 2 years on the computer sales floor and sadistically got my satisfaction giving free help rather than subject people to a $100 diagnostic.

That'll teach 'em to underpay me =)

I wouldnt compare it to the genius bar...
By Doormat on 9/8/2008 2:17:54 AM , Rating: 2
The Genius bar is mostly for tech support. I dont think thats what these folks will be doing. Its comparable to Apple store staff in general - providing solutions and answering general questions.

RE: I wouldnt compare it to the genius bar...
By Mitch101 on 9/8/2008 10:25:20 AM , Rating: 3
Whether or not Genius is Guru is a apple to oranges comparison with the scope of their job description Microsoft needs to do something about the FUD Apple continues to spread. They should have let the bashing go long ago but now it simply not justified. Before SP1 I would agree that Vista had problems however since then I have all but one issue with Vista everything else has been improved in Vista over XP or is equal or on par with XP. Apple still hasn't shown at all what makes Leopard better. They just say it is with no proof. Does the Apple guy wear the same outfit in every commercial? Ewww. He looks like the creepy 27-33 year old that hangs out with teen skate boarders and lives in his parents basement. How can he afford a mac on a Pizza delivery persons salary? Maybe he looks broke because he spent all his money to buy a Mac? Either way I haven't seen any proof only a homeless person trying to sell me a MAC in the apple commercials. I'm not saying Microsoft commercials are better. The Apple guy is close to a homeless person why is a homeless person trying to sell me on MAC?

Finally the one issue I have with Vista is I have numerous video capture cards both USB and PCI and only my ATI HDTV wonder works with Vista using the XP driver. The number of default drivers in Vista for legacy hardware even not full featured should have had base support for legacy generation chips. But I will blame hardware companies for not supporting previous generations of their hardware with Vista especially since their newer hardware contains the same encoding chips and they want to force me to buy a new video capture card instead. So instead of supporting the Hardware companies again with another video capture card I simply bought a DVD recorder to archive my legacy VHS tapes. I can just put the DVD into the PC drive and edit just as good as any video capture card.

RE: I wouldnt compare it to the genius bar...
By Doormat on 9/8/2008 1:55:51 PM , Rating: 1

I agree that Vista is better with SP1, and a lot of the problems are drivers that MS isn't directly responsible for. But railing on the ads is going to get MS nowhere. Actions speak louder than words. Putting people in the stores are good, but they're still glorified salesmen, not tech specialists who fix stuff.

RE: I wouldnt compare it to the genius bar...
By Mitch101 on 9/8/2008 4:26:42 PM , Rating: 5
I work in IT and most of the time I would say the product isn't broken they just don't know how its works or how to work it. In some cases an add in has been tuned off and you just need to know where to flip the switch. Granted a lot of switches aren't always clearly visible or labeled. I have played with Apple and Linux and the same applies to them because I don't know where the switch is or in Linux case how to flip it sometimes doesn't make me want to bash the OS or claim its broken. There is too much of a idea when something doesnt work the way they expect it to well it must be broken.

PEBCAK - Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard.

By whiskerwill on 9/9/2008 10:05:24 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't Intel do an ad on the very same topic?

developers developers developers
By gbed on 9/8/2008 12:33:10 PM , Rating: 5
In my Microsoft New Hire orientation, the question was asked, why doesn't MS just hire all the devs it needs to fix everything perfectly?

Quite simply. There's not enough quality devs out there. We all ask those questions, why doesn't my nvidia or ATI drive do x function? Why doesn't software do xy function?

So, Microsoft is currently hiring developers, if you have the talent, feel free to apply and help. If you know friends, have them apply.

Before I started working for Microsoft. I upgraded my mom's old shuttle to Vista. It's running a single core AMD athlon 2000 with 1gb of ram (2x512) and my old ATI 8500 AGP card.

Runs Aero no problem and cruises the internet fine.

So, Vista can run on old boxes, just have reasonable expecations, load up on cheap memory and try to avoid on board video when possible.

I doubt the new MS commercials are targeted towards the very knowledgeable computer crowd. Much as the Apple ads are not targeted towards a tech savy market.


I'm a pc :)

RE: developers developers developers
By Bremen7000 on 9/9/2008 3:40:18 PM , Rating: 2
If you think hiring more people is the way to fix all software problems, you've got some reading to do..

By lagomorpha on 9/10/2008 4:21:39 AM , Rating: 2'_law

What he's referring to is Brooks' law: "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later"

By DanDaManJC on 9/8/2008 1:57:57 AM , Rating: 3
it's nice to see the gurus/salesmen won't be paid on commission, but rather how honest they are. fancy that huh?

RE: hmm
By Snowy on 9/8/2008 8:29:57 AM , Rating: 2
It's a win-win situation for both the customers and the gurus. I wish more companies would do this, rather than having its employees sell the customer a piece of crap, just to get paid.

Reach out to the buyer & users
By crystal clear on 9/8/2008 11:06:39 AM , Rating: 1
Its good that M.S. finally started to take matters in their own hands,rather than depend on retailers to promote Vista.

They have realized press releases & statements promoting Vista dont really get the job done.

They have realized retailers are incapable of promoting Vista & neither do they make a serious effort to do so.

This should have been done when Vista was launched, but its not too late either.

After the release of Vista SP1 they are in a better position to promote Vista successfully.

M.S. should take away customer support services regarding Vista from the OEMs/retailers & set up a customer support service (exclusively for Vista) accessble to anybody without any charge .

OEMs/retailers have a sloppy customer support services that customers find it very disgusting.

M.S. should set up call centres or after sales services centres in the USA for USA & not depend on call centres in India for this.

The message is crystal clear-

Go to the buyers if you want them to buy VISTA & make yourself easily accessable to users & buyers .

Give them quality support services & you will see VISTA sales shoot upwards.

Dont call them GURUS give it a more user friendly name.

If M.S. can bring out a SP2 for VISTA by Jan 09 it will even better for VISTA.

M.S. should announce price cuts immidiately to push this campaign even harder

RE: Reach out to the buyer & users
By Parhel on 9/8/2008 2:55:54 PM , Rating: 3
Either Hell would have to freeze over or the US economy would have to collapse before MS ever offers free technical support based out of the US.

It is good to see them actually promoting Vista, rather than just take it for granted that everyone will have to buy it anyways when they buy a new PC.

If they could pull it off, a price drop and another service pack would really help in getting everyone else on board. Now, why can't they promote the Zune?

There seems to be 3 groups...
By steven975 on 9/8/2008 12:37:25 PM , Rating: 3
1. Vista users. They, like me, by and large seem to like it. I use the 64bit edition with 6GB of RAM (that costs, what $100 now?), and it flies. It also never crashes. I still dual-boot XP for older games, though. I used to bash Vista, but I took a chance because the 2GB memory limit (well, 3GB, but with my video cards it's 2.5GB) is a big handicap with XP, and XP-64 isn't realistic. I'm glad I took the chance.
2. XP users who seem to bash Vista daily. Most of them have probably never used it, though. Vista isn't for 4 year old PCs. It's for new ones, and works very well for them.
3. Mac users who think their insecure OS is godly. Nothing I want to do can be done on a Mac. Play most games. Record and stream my HDTV. Use MS Office for work with VBA support. Do they even play Blu-Ray?

Bill Gates
By icanhascpu on 9/8/2008 5:36:04 PM , Rating: 2
Does he really need this sort of BS to make him look like a good dude or whatever the hell they are doing?

Ditch the comedy and have Gates himself walk around talking about Windows Vista, some of the features, and the future of the OS in general. The mass majority of us have enough tech experiance to have come up with an OK vision of Gates that he doesnt need this fake horseshit waste of time commercials.


One problem left to fix
By Hyperion1400 on 9/9/2008 1:06:47 AM , Rating: 2
I actually like Vista, I took me a while to warm up to it but it is a nice OS and is a good step forward from XP. However, my one peeve from Day 1 still remains... the lack of hardware sound support. Although it may seem trivial to most people (as most use realtek onboard sound anyway) it is a serious problem for me as I actually want to USE my X-fi Elite Pro. And, quite frankly I don't understand MS's justification for it. If nobody uses a sound card, then why is a 1 billion dollar per year company, who's primary products are digital sound processors, now losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year, when they were making a profit right before Vista's release?

Boo hoo!
By Viper67Pro on 9/9/2008 2:16:07 PM , Rating: 2
..."I already have my BestBuy geeksquad.. whats more qualified than that?"....
Are you kidding me they don't know anything about computers not only that,they are geek wanna be's so please if you need someone to help you with any computer related problems try my guys at Krex Computers. They are the original Geeks and they are good at what they do!!!

lol, is this necessary?
By Muerr on 9/8/2008 11:54:48 AM , Rating: 1
I guess it would be better to have people actually knowledgeable about the products being sold at Big Box USA, since the typical blue or red shirt college student working at these places are fairly clueless.

But I mean, really? It's not like you can go buy a system with Linux preloaded at any of these stores. The only one that sold Apple products was CompUSA and we know what happened to them. As for potential tech support a la genius bar, I shudder to think about this. Each of the manufacturer's that sells in these stores offers tech support for their products. Best Buy has the Geek Squad (quality of service surely questionable). The myriad of different software and hardware products that consumers buy makes the PC market a much bigger issue for support than Apple. At least if you have a Mac, it is a closed box without a lot of third party options. Like, "My wireless isn't working" is a fairly easy troubleshooting adventure on Mac where you have a single point of driver and network configuration. Contrast to PCs where the different vendors of systems have additional software, and the different vendors of adapters have different drivers, and sometimes they collide in a glorious explosion of not workery.

I feel sorry for these Microsoft Windows "Gurus" if they have to do anything more than pre-sales.

Soup Nazi?
By paulprogrammer on 9/8/2008 1:35:26 PM , Rating: 1
Maybe the "gurus" could show what the real MS experience is like by emulating one of the favorite Seinfield characters: the Soup Nazi.


$300 million
By phatboye on 9/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: $300 million
By Noya on 9/8/2008 1:58:53 AM , Rating: 4
only bought 3-4 years ago

That's ancient. You bought right before dual-core CPU's and 1gb of memory was standard. Even XP is sluggish on 512mb.

RE: $300 million
By phatboye on 9/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: $300 million
By Samus on 9/8/2008 2:26:23 AM , Rating: 1
That's ancient. You bought right before dual-core CPU's and 1gb of memory was standard. Even XP is sluggish on 512mb.

That comment cracks me up, because I routinely run into computers still churning away after years of running XP on 256MB, and occasionally, 128MB. Even 128MB is sustainable as long as there is no virus scanner and the role of the system is basic office/internet tasks.

RE: $300 million
By afkrotch on 9/8/2008 3:02:01 AM , Rating: 2
That's laughable. Opening up IE and a couple windows will suck down 128 meg alone. Right now, my Outlook is using 111 meg and IE is using 57 meg.

If you like having a slow computer run even slower, run it with 256 meg or less. Virtual memory anyone?

RE: $300 million
By luseferous on 9/9/2008 7:53:54 AM , Rating: 2
And there is a damning example of why Microsoft needs to get rid of all the unnecessary rubbish they add to their software (they are not alone) 111 megabytes of application allowing you to open and type(mostly) text documents that probably amount to a few kilobytes or tens of kilobytes.

If you wanted an email program ten to fifteen years ago it would have been a tiny fraction of the size of current Bloatware yet retained 95% of the day to day functionality.

RE: $300 million
By luseferous on 9/9/2008 7:55:42 AM , Rating: 2
If you wanted an email program ten to fifteen years ago it would have been a tiny fraction of the size and footprint of current Bloatware yet retained 95% of the day to day functionality.

RE: $300 million
By Spivonious on 9/8/2008 9:11:57 AM , Rating: 3
256MB will run, but you can only do one thing at a time if you want any responsiveness. And forget about virus auto-scanners.

128MB is just a way to make someone hate computers.

RE: $300 million
By lagomorpha on 9/10/2008 4:24:49 AM , Rating: 2
Xandros Linux struggles with 512MB ram at this point...

RE: $300 million
By Shawn on 9/8/2008 2:09:49 AM , Rating: 5
I'm sorry but it's time to upgrade. My Acer laptop that I picked up for $350 last black friday is faster than your PC. It runs Vista just fine.

I also have an old P2 266MHz laptop with 64MB of ram that runs Windows 98 just fine. Windows XP runs slowly on it however. Does that mean WinXP is bloated? Get real.

RE: $300 million
By phatboye on 9/8/2008 2:25:31 AM , Rating: 2
Give me $350 and I'll gladly upgrade. The point is that Vista doesn't offer me any justification for upgrading my current box, which runs just fine with my current hardware, just to upgrade to Vista.

RE: $300 million
By exanimas on 9/8/2008 3:37:07 AM , Rating: 5
Not to bash you (because there's already enough people doing that), but you now just admitted that Vista isn't right for you due to your current PC situation, however, that doesn't mean that it is bloated. It's newer software than XP (about 5 years newer), has more features (regardless of whether you care about them), thus requires better hardware. Sorry to go on a rant, but I'm just sick of all the Vista bashing by people who haven't even used it enough to have a legitimate complaint about it.

RE: $300 million
By k20boy on 9/8/2008 1:10:00 PM , Rating: 2
I gave Vista a try for a year. I have a pretty new ThinkPad R61 with Core 2 Duo and 2GB of RAM. However, it was unusually sluggish (even after SP1 upgrade) right from the beginning. I believe most of this can be attributed to the integrated GMA 950 graphics and running Aero on my 1920X1200 24" external monitor. Even with Aero turned off, I didn't really see much improvement, strangely. I have since replaced the OS with XP and it runs A LOT smoother. I think that the level of hardware I had is pretty standard in NEW laptops and should comfortably run the latest OS. That, in my opinion, is Vista's flaw, whatever the cause. Have a good day.

RE: $300 million
By Hyperion1400 on 9/9/2008 12:52:05 AM , Rating: 2
There are these three little buttons in Windows called ctrl-alt-del. I would use them routinely when I sold people PCs to educate them on the wonders of the OEM PC market.Vista isn't nearly as slow as most people think it is. The problem lays in the fact that vendors make money by shoveling the most software possible into a new PC. (shovelware anyone?) From there I would show them the running processes and explain to them the OEM market and how to remove this stuff when the got home. All I did in store was open up MSconfig and disable all noncritical startup tasks (everything but os, drivers, and anti-virus)
Then I would slap the lid on it, restart it... and what do you know, it boots in under 1 min and runs like a dream.

The problem isn't VISTA. It's the OEM.

RE: $300 million
By chmilz on 9/8/2008 11:03:53 AM , Rating: 2
The way I'm reading it is: You don't see the need to upgrade so that's proof enough that Vista is crap?

Try this: Save your money, don't upgrade, and shut the heck up. No one's making you upgrade.

RE: $300 million
By mikefarinha on 9/8/2008 11:07:07 AM , Rating: 3
Well, if you don't have the $350 to upgrade your PC hardware you most likely don't have the $110 to upgrade to Vista. So you are basiclly bashing Vista with out any intent on upgrading to it... perhapse you are just sore about the fact that you have an old PC and can't afford a newer one?

RE: $300 million
By nah on 9/8/2008 9:03:37 AM , Rating: 2
Does that mean WinXP is bloated?

The question here is not bloat but Value Added Bloat--XP did offer advanced features for the added bloat that was true value addition for many customers--like WiFi,5:1 and 7:1,and later on--blu-ray and others--as well as being less crash prone than win98, the dominant OS at the time. My question is--does Vista offer the same easily recognizable value added stuff (now in its 3rd year)that XP did ? I can't agree with that statement

RE: $300 million
By amanojaku on 9/8/2008 2:28:20 AM , Rating: 3
No offense meant, but your PC sucks. What's worse is you seem to forget that with every new OS there is an increase in the resources used. In other words, you need to get an upgraded system in order to run modern software. Not only do the new operating systems (and applications) use more resources, they take advantage of CPU features that didn't exist before.

512MB of RAM?!? Damn, I haven't used that little since NT 4.0 and 98! BTW, I'm running XP with no intention of buying Vista until it's less than $200. Clearly, the technology isn't my concern. I'm usually a Microsoft basher, but I have to say you're just b*tching.

RE: $300 million
By FITCamaro on 9/8/2008 7:56:12 AM , Rating: 3
RE: $300 million
By Spivonious on 9/8/2008 9:13:49 AM , Rating: 2

RE: $300 million
By Pirks on 9/8/2008 9:24:53 AM , Rating: 2
$99. There you go.

RE: $300 million
By amanojaku on 9/8/2008 9:32:26 AM , Rating: 1
Groovy. But what the hell does THIS mean?
This OEM System Builder Channel software requires the assembler to provide end user support for the Windows software and cannot be transferred to another computer once it is installed.

If I upgrade or move to another box should I be worried that a burly MS guy will come to my house to kick my @$$? Ok, a nerdy MS guy will come to annoy me with more product offers?

RE: $300 million
By KC7SWH on 9/8/2008 10:46:38 AM , Rating: 2
At the very least they will probably make you "adjust your shorts" before they beat the crap out of you.

RE: $300 million
By BigToque on 9/8/2008 10:53:27 AM , Rating: 2
My computer was even worse than that and I had no complaints with Vista on a P3-750 w/ 512mb ram.

It was slower than XP, but not to the point where I noticed it enough to care.

Browsing the net, working on my resume, listening to music and watching movies are basically all I do, and it worked just fine for that.

RE: $300 million
By icanhascpu on 9/8/2008 5:30:02 PM , Rating: 2
I'm running Vista 64 on a 2.2Ghz Venice. RAM is your problem, not Vista. If youre too damn cheap to go to newegg and spend 50$ to get 2GB of RAM, thats your stupidity, not the developers.

Maybe if I take my laptop in to them
By SiliconAddict on 9/8/08, Rating: -1
By tmouse on 9/8/2008 9:17:10 AM , Rating: 3
Did you make sure you checked the "Connect automatically when this network is in range" property box under the Manage wireless networks page?

RE: Maybe if I take my laptop in to them
By Smilin on 9/8/2008 9:42:00 AM , Rating: 3
Did you plug in the power cord?

By Aquila76 on 9/8/2008 9:06:53 PM , Rating: 2
**** NSFW **** (bad words) **** NSFW ****:

By murphyslabrat on 9/8/2008 1:27:19 PM , Rating: 1
Apparently Vista doesn't check for connections every second, meaning that it will take a bit for it to realize that the connection is available. Also, I have had issues with the Hibernate feature used in conjunction with a wireless connection. It really doesn't like it.

But, boo-hoo, get an external piece of software to manage automatic connections, like you had to do in XP. Vista isn't perfect, so don't go expecting perfection out of it. Expect it to run your games, and when that doesn't work, then WINE.

Why JerryS???
By diazsraul on 9/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: Why JerryS???
By mikefarinha on 9/8/2008 11:13:12 AM , Rating: 4
would also like MS to hire more competent developers to work on better drivers and system services that don’t crash resource starved computers. Also, I’ve always questioned the caliber of the S/W developers from the South Asian countries that work for MS. Billy needs to retire and let just ride off into the sunset.

I'm sorry but this is an awful comment. Do you honestly think that Microsoft, the largest software company in the world with the largest cash reserves, does NOT have the most talented programmers in the world? Think about that for a minute.

Normally I try to ignore you armchair Microsoft 'advisors,' but eveyone in a while you guys need to be called out on you're silly shallow comments.

RE: Why JerryS???
By Oregonian2 on 9/8/2008 2:09:48 PM , Rating: 2
The few people who I've known who went off to work at Microsoft (we're a couple hundred miles South of Redmond) were very very smart folk. One of them was originally from India -- and a brilliant person (and no, I'm not from there -- I'm just not so blatantly racist).

If you've read that silver-covered book that chronicled the making of Windows NT that was written some time ago, one of the problems was about management problems similar that which NBA and NFL coaches have. How does a manager motivate a worker who's a millionaire. A LOT (as in thousands) of experienced Microsoft engineers are now just that. Not that they won't want to work, but how do you get them to do things in a unified way (as the project manager) rather than each one doing things their own individualistic "correct" way?

RE: Why JerryS???
By Belard on 9/8/2008 5:18:59 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft doesn't have the best talent, of if they did - their managers did a lousy job of choosing stupid ways of doing things.

Vista is not an amazing OS, its still just a DRM skin-job that really needs 4GB of RAM. It does nothing to justify its 4x memory requirements from the previous OS. That is the problem.

Office2007 was put together by a talented team, in comparison to Vista.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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