In what may well be the weirdest promotional strategy ever, Microsoft has opened a Windows Café in the heart of Paris. APC takes you on a tour.
It's no secret that the French love their cafes. The Boulevard de Sébastopol in Paris has plenty of places you can grab a coffee and a bite to eat, but only one where you can also learn about the difference between the Professionel and Édition Intégrale versions of Windows 7. As part of the launch frenzy for Windows 7, Microsoft is running a café in Paris' first arondissement.
The joint wasn't actually jumping when I dropped in on a recent weeknight, but to be fair, neither were any of the comparable venues along the route. It's traditional to hang around a French café for a long time; visitors don't just drop in, wolf their espresso and leave. At the Windows Café, they also play with a Surface, or head upstairs for the gaming lounge and meeting areas.
My French is unfortunately execrable, so I couldn't interview the staff in detail about how the venture was going or why, unlike Australia, France gets a family pack version, but I did manage to grab a few pictures.
Above: For no obvious reason, there seem to be more people outside the Windows Café than inside it.
Above: Classic French architecture and American corporate logos: I don't think too many people come to Paris expecting this.
Above: The window of the Windows café. Sorry, but it had to be done.
Above: Easily the biggest attraction is the Surface touch-screen tabletop just inside the doorway. I don't know if these gentlemen are called Jean and Paul, but it's quite likely.
Above: People stare at screens and don't look at each other. No, we're not in an adult bookstore.
Above: Kick back, enjoy some free Wi-Fi and even try out the soup of the day. (Sadly, you'll have to pay for it.)
Above: A meeting of the Paris branch of the Windows Vista fan club.
Above: If the ambient lighting and Windows 7 gaming excitement get too much, there's a toilet conveniently nearby.
Above: The fireplace and outdoor view are fake. The staff are real.
Above: Presumably, Kaspersky paid a mint for this placement. Note the not-very-high-tech paper brochures.
Above: French cafés are casual, but all the equipment is bolted down. Mind you, I didn't want a machine with an AZERTY keyboard anyway…