My first visit to the Microsoft Store

I consider myself first and foremost a fan of Linux, particularly Ubuntu. However, this is not to say I don't also use other solutions from time to time. In particular, despite all the flak that Microsoft gets from the Linux community on a regular basis, I myself still use quite a bit of their technologies and products in my own personal tech ecosystem. The rest of my family especially still turn to Windows for most of their own computing needs, and I still provide them free IT support.

My brother +Jonathan Horton is in a transition period of sorts right now. He will soon be taking up an extended residence in a hotel somewhere in Owosso, MI while he is in a seven-week internship. (He holds a bachelor's of science degree in microbiology from Michigan State University, and is pursuing a career in clinical laboratory.) During this time, he is expected to take weekly exams wherever he is staying at, which will be proctored via the internet.

The proctoring software strictly requires either a Windows or macOS laptop or desktop machine. My brother has a Windows 10 desktop computer he used at school and also for gaming, but he does not want to be transporting that to a hotel room, and it's also not portable. His Chromebook is automatically disqualified per the proctor's requirements, as is his Ubuntu netbook.

So, he needed a new Windows 10 laptop, and he needed to get it quickly and cheaply, while also knowing he would be getting something reliable and easy to set up and use. Rather than going to our local Micro Center store like we would have in the past, I suggested that we instead go to the Microsoft Store located in the Somerset Collection mall near where we live. I had a pretty good experience with ordering my HP laptop from their online store, but in our case we could not wait for shipping, and this would also provide my brother with an opportunity to try out the hardware himself before purchasing. (In addition, I would probably never recommend another Windows PC to someone else unless they install Windows themselves or it comes with Signature Edition on it. It eliminates annoying 3rd-party bloatware, and helps you avoid potential problems like Lenovo had with its preinstalled Superfish software.)



I'll admit I had my own personal reasons for wanting to go there too. I've never been to a physical Microsoft Store location before, and I just wanted to check it out. I also receive marketing emails from the Microsoft Store since I purchased my laptop from their site, and one of them I received around Earth Day this year mentioned that they accept old hardware for recycling, and possibly trade-ins for store credit. I've been thinking of getting a proper controller to play Riptide GP: Renegade on my laptop with, so I figured the trade-in value of my stuff could go towards that.

One trip to a very upscale-looking mall later, we arrived at the store. For a computer geek like me, it was like walking into a candy store. We approached one of the sales staff and explained what my brother needed, and he brought us towards the back by the Dell laptops and showed us what he said was a good budget model. (It was a Dell Inspiron 13... For reference, I believe this was it.) While my brother sat in front of it to check it out, I also walked around a bit to see what else was there. Surface was front-and-center, and a Surface Hub display was situated at the front of the store for people to doodle on. An HTC Vive demo area was also set up; I would have loved to try it out, but we I don't think we had the time. Plenty of gaming laptops and Xbox stuff was in there, too.

The staff was knowledgeable and very friendly. The one associate who showed us the laptop was also happy to talk about other tech-related things on the side. He was a big help when I went looking for a wireless Xbox One gaming controller for my laptop; I ended up settling on a plain black controller. There was the option of getting it with or without a cable included for syncing with the computer, and oddly enough the option with the cable was 4¢ cheaper than getting it without.

My brother ended up getting the aforementioned laptop, and I showed the salespeople what I brought for trade-in. One item was my old Nexus 4, my first decent smartphone and what I last used for Ubuntu Touch testing while that was still a thing. We all agreed that the unique back finish was one of the best qualities of that phone. I was quoted $3.15 for it, based on being an 8GB model. The other item I brought in was the free Windows 10 NuVision tablet I got with my HP laptop, which was still in shrinkwrap. I explained that I never needed it, and nobody else I knew would buy it from me. That particular item the staff persuaded me to keep, saying recycling a fairly recent model still unopened seemed like a shame and to look into donating it to a school or something instead.

So, as a result of that adventure, I got a proper game controller for my PC games, my brother got a new laptop we are setting up, I finally said goodbye to my Nexus 4, and I am still stuck with that tablet. But the experience was a good one, and I will keep them in mind as an option for future hardware needs.

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