The New York Times reported today that Apple has opened its first Apple Store in Paris, underneath the Louvre no less, and just two weeks after Microsoft opened up a Windows 7 cafe in Paris in another location. The idea of these two companies competing in a retail environment, and especially a Windows-themed cafe, got me thinking about what would happen if three cafes opened each run in the same style of the operating system it was named for. I figure it might look something like this:
The Windows Cafe is in a bland store front. The furniture consists of straight wooden chairs with tables with sharp angles. Unfortunately, every so often when you sit in a chair it crashes the to the floor, but you get used to this and figure it's just part of the experience of going to the Windows Cafe. (To be fair they have been testing chairs from a new manufacturer and they are reportedly less prone to breaking in this fashion.) Pictures of a smiling Bill Gates and Windows logos adorn the walls. The coffee tastes fine most of the time, but a surprising number of patrons get sick there, so that it's become standard practice to use hand sanitizer before you go in to protect yourself. The coffee is expensive, and refills are definitely not free, but it's a known quantity, and many people are comfortable going there.
The Linux Cafe is a funky place in an artsy neighborhood with eclectic furniture donated by the patrons. It doesn't match, but it's comfortable and the walls are covered with donated pictures and paintings by local artists. The coffee is free, served in black cups (or you can just bring your own), but you need to make it yourself. If you can't do it yourself, the cafe has consultants available to help you for a fee. It's great for people who know about coffee brewing, but many people are intimidated by the idea of making their own coffee and stay away, even though very few people ever get sick who go there.
The Apple Cafe is a modern, state-of-the-art facility. The tables are stainless steel and the chairs are ultra-contemporary. Shrines to Apple CEO Steve Jobs are dotted around the wide space. The cups are cool and come in a variety of bright colors. The coffee is well made by a highly trained staff, and even though it costs a lot more, people line up around the block for a chance to drink it. Just don't ask the staff about their coffee-making techniques because they are extremely tight lipped about this. People occasionally get sick there, but it's rare enough for the cafe to brag about its safety record.
So there you have it. Three cafes with three distinct personalities just like the operating systems they represent
Photo by Marfis75 on Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License.