How to pack a Microsoft store opening

November 19, 2010, 1:30 PM UTC

Dave Matthews and 2,000 free Miley Cyrus concert tickets will do the trick

Dave Matthews on Thursday. Image: mdarab1 via YouTube

The air was scented with “bamboo sage.” The walls were lined with 100 monitors. The cheering staff was clad in primary colors, ready to break out in dance at a moment’s notice.

But it was not the tables full of Dells and Kinects, the community training space, the free Windows diagnostic tests, the video history of Bill Gates’ company or the ribbon-cutting speech by CEO Steve Ballmer that drew thousands to the grand opening of Microsoft’s (MSFT) new store in Bellevue, Wash., Thursday.

More likely it was the free performance by Dave Matthews and the lure of 2,000 free tickets for Saturday’s Miley Cyrus concert.

Ballmer. Image: TechFlashVideos

“I’m here because my son is in love with Miley Cyrus,” one mom who camped out overnight told the Seattle Times. “He said the only reason they’re not engaged is because she hasn’t met him yet.”

Three doors down, an Apple (AAPL) store, according to the paper, “felt just a little stodgy with its cutouts of the Beatles in the window.”

Below: A 3.5-minute video of the event. There’s a bit too much of the CEO, but it’s worth watching for the curtain drop and for Ballmer’s interaction with Miley’s fanbase.


One reader has complained that I didn’t mention the checks Microsoft hands out at each of its store openings. Thursday’s crop: $200,000 to Cleveland High School, $200,000 to the Bellevue School District, $500,000 to FIRST Robotics and $500,000 to the King County Library System.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]