With this launch, our customers in the U.S. are able to buy first-party software and hardware directly from Microsoft offered in a comprehensive online catalog. On our store, you’ll find products from many categories, ranging from Office 2007 Home and Student and Zoo Tycoon 2 to Xbox 360 Wireless Controllers and the new Zune with that cool Buy from FM feature.
Buy and ship … or buy and download!
In addition to shipping fully packaged products to your doorstep, we offer the additional advantage by making available many Microsoft products to buy and download. This is also commonly referred to as Electronic Software Distribution (ESD).
You pay for an ESD product just like you would for one that would be physically shipped to you. The big difference is that after your payment is confirmed, you can immediately download the product to your computer and install it right away. There is no longer any need to pay for shipping costs and waiting for the big brown truck to drive across the country. You’ll be able to enjoy your software almost immediately – all it takes is the download time of the product, which will vary depending on the size of the digital download.
The obvious fear for most users buying ESD products is not having the software on physical media to re-install the product at a later time. Microsoft Store solves this by letting you re-download the product until mainstream support for the product ends. Typically this is 5 years after the product is released. You always have the option of copying the downloaded products to physical media if you want to have it available longer than the mainstream support lifetime. (You can look up the mainstream support lifecycles for all Microsoft products on the main Microsoft Help and Support site.)
Advantages of buying ESD
First, buying ESD gives you the advantage of perpetual storage of your product keys. For all ESD purchases on Microsoft Store, there is no longer any need to keep a software box, CD jewel case or obscure email around for future reference. Your product key is stored in your Microsoft Store Account alongside your purchase history so you can use it to re-install your software at any time. Convenience anyone?
Second, buying ESD is also better for the environment. I’m not going to get all granola on you and try to quote you an exact environmental impact, but think of the savings of gasoline in shipping products, driving back and forth in your car to a retail store, or even the plastic manufactured and used for the CD jewel cases. With everyone getting worried about their “carbon footprint”, every little bit counts, so why not buy ESD if you can?
Lastly, in a world where lighter weight laptops, such as netbooks, are becoming more common, ESD makes things easier when an optical drive isn’t easily accessible. The first thing I do when I setup a new machine at home, is to run Windows update, and download all the freeware I use such as 7-zip. By extending ESD to Microsoft software, we’re able to increase convenience across the board for a variety of customers, regardless of whether they are using a speedy desktop gaming PC, or the latest netbook.
Building and launching Microsoft Store for the company is one of the biggest highlights of my career at Microsoft. It has given me tremendous insight, and respect for the complexities of being a retailer, doing business online, and in particular, venturing into the sale and shipment of physical goods.
Looking back at time on the Windows Live ID team, this release was actually relatively short. After 5 years driving one of the world’s largest web services, it was refreshing to deal with a completely different set of challenges, such as supply chain, payment processing, taxes and even how to optimize bit delivery for ESD downloads. It truly has been a humbling learning experience.
Thankfully I work with an incredible team, who not only are as enthusiastic as I am about the product and our customers, but also have the commitment to buckle down and do whatever necessary to ship our product on time.
Tell us what you think!
We’ve spent a tremendous amount of time designing the site to be both “pretty” and functional (my designers are going to kill me for using the word “pretty”). We’ve really taken it to heart to make it easy for customers to find products, buy those products and also make the ESD experience as user friendly as possible.
However, as with any product, there are always improvements that can be made. Take some time to check out the Microsoft Store and let me know what you think.
Additionally, if you want to follow what’s going on with Microsoft Store or other stuff on my mind, follow me on Twitter.