IN PICTURES: Zut alors! Inside the Windows Cafe in Paris

It’s no secret that the French love their cafes. The Boulevard de Sebastopol 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 Edition Integrale versions of Windows 7. As part of the launch frenzy for Windows 7 Microsoft is running a cafe 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 cafe for a long time; visitors don’t just drop in wolf their espresso and leave. At the Windows Cafe 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 Cafe 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 cafe. 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 cafes are casual but all the equipment is bolted down. Mind you I didn’t want a machine with an AZERTY keyboard anyway…