Microsoft to open its first retail store outside North America later this year

microsoft store

Microsoft has been steadily expanding its retail presence in North America and now has 110 brick and mortar stores across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. The significance of physical Microsoft stores is ever more apparent as it expands its hardware portfolio with new products. It’s worth noting that Apple is also continuously expands its retail presence and now has 450 stores worldwide, with 260 of them in the US alone.

With that in mind, it’s vital that Microsoft’s products are showcased and presented in the way Microsoft intends for them to be in other parts of the world as well, and that’s why the software giant plans to open a new store in Sydney, Australia.

This marks the first time that a Microsoft store is being built outside of North America, and hopefully it’s a signal of more to come. This new Sydney store will be located at Westfield Sydney on Pitt Street Mall and is scheduled to open later this year.

Microsoft will have more hardware to showcase and sell than ever before by the time Windows 10 is released, with the newly announced Surface 3, and the much-anticipated Surface Pro 4 sure to be joining the ranks.

We can also expect to see some Surface Hubs to be at physical retail stores in the near future. In addition to all of the Surface products, there will certainly be a slew of new Windows phones which will include flagship models later this year, and we certainly hope to see the new HoloLens at Microsoft stores when that’s released. If that doesn’t draw a crowd than we don’t know what will.

Microsoft is definitely making first-class innovative hardware these days, and having physical stores is the perfect way to show-case their hardware.  With Microsoft working on making more hardware these days it may be a sign of things to come to many more countries around the world.

An Interview with the Microsoft's Newest Store Manager

New store Manager Tiffany Traynum and I at the opening
New store Manager Tiffany Traynum and I at the opening

On November 22, Microsoft opened its 110th store in the Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda Maryland. It was a big event, and if you want to see all the crazy, fun excitement of the opening moments please enjoy our videos of the event.

Making a successful store requires more than just great products, it also requires a great team of people, and they thrive best with great leadership. Judging by the enthusiastic and well informed staff of the Microsoft Store at the opening, they have both. I was fortunate to be able to get a few minutes with the incredibly busy manager of the new store, Tiffany Traynum.

Tiffany has been working for Microsoft for three years, including a stint at the Microsoft Store in nearby Tyson’s Corners. She told us that the reason Microsoft is opening up a store in this location is that despite having two specialty stores in the Baltimore area, Maryland has not had a Microsoft Store in the heavily populated, high-tech part of the State.  This newest store is intended to fill the needs of the residents and businesses in the Washington, DC suburb of Montgomery County and surrounding areas.

Store Manager Tiffany Traynum addressing the crowd at the start of the Grand Opening
Store Manager Tiffany Traynum addressing the crowd at the start of the Grand Opening

I asked her to describe the planning process and training of the staff and she said that the 1,300 sq ft store has been in the planning stages for many months, and Tiffany and her staff of 32 employees have been training for 2-3 months in order to provide customers with the highest quality of knowledgeable service.

When asked to describe how a visit to the Microsoft Store might differ from going to one of Microsoft’s retail partners, like Best Buy, she replied:

“Our retail partners provide an excellent customer experience which we try to expand upon in several areas. We offer extensive on site troubleshooting and repair services, and naturally, if we encounter anything we can’t handle immediately on site, the staff has a direct line to all the support we they need from headquarters to ensure that anything our customers bring us we will get fixed. Customers walking in to look at a new purchase will find a very large product selection, along side unique offerings like training; both individual and group, and unique services such as individual personal shopping.”

The latter sounded pretty interesting, particularly if you have a tech-savvy person on your gift list but don’t know what to get them. She explained that you can go online to book appointments for the individual services ahead of time, ensuring your visit will be as pleasant as possible.

"Honest Boss. These were just part of a test. You'll let me expense them - right?"
“Honest Boss. These were just part of a test. You’ll let me expense them – right?”

She seemed very proud of her team, and all the work that had gone into preparing for the big day, and when I told her I had tested them extensively with a series of purchases and was impressed with the calm, professional performance in the midst of so much activity she beamed: “I’m so proud of them all! It’s such a privilege to work with such a great team!”

Watching her staff handle over a thousand customers on Saturday, plus a special event with Stephen Strasburg, I can see why she was so proud of them.  She has a great team, and Microsoft has a great new Manager of its newest store.

Recap Video: Microsoft's newest downtown Toronto store opening

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Update:  We also covered the new Microsoft Store opening in Bethesda at the Westfield Montgomery mall.  Check out our video footage as we enter the circular conga line

Microsoft opened their third store in the Toronto area on November 20th, marking the ninth retail store in Canada and the 109th across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Their new store is situated in the heart of downtown Toronto’s Eaton Centre mall, which happens to be Toronto’s top tourist attraction with over one million visitors per week, making it a vital location to have an official store. This new retail space was occupied by the Sony Store before closing down and Microsoft managed to secure it.

Here’s our recap of the curtain drop and the massive line that formed in the mall, despite the bad weather and no concert tickets to give away. Fans lined up to see Microsoft’s new store and get their hands on some great deals.

We also managed to get a sneak peek of the store the day before the opening, and for those of you interested in more information on what the store has to offer, see: An early sneak peek at the new Microsoft Store in downtown Toronto

Microsoft confirms it will open a flagship retail store in NYC

NY-DF773_MICROS_G_20140928165044It has been rumored for weeks, but today we get an official confirmation from David Porter, corporate vice president for Microsoft retail stores that the Redmond software company will in fact open its first flagship Microsoft Store right in Manhattan just steps away from the Museum of Modern Art at 677 Fifth Ave.

Microsoft’s Fifth Avenue store has been five years in the making, Microsoft executives said. The company’s NYC store is slated to replace the luxury fashion brand Fendi in the ritzy neighborhood surrounded by luxury brands such as Rolex, Abercrombie & Fitch and Prada to name a few.

Mr. Porter tells The Wall Street Journal “As our first flagship store, it will serve as the centerpiece of our Microsoft Stores experience. This is a goal we’ve had since day one—we were only waiting for the right location. And now we have it.”

Microsoft aims to make the flagship NYC location “much more than just a Microsoft Store,” according to the executive, who adds that the new store will feature “experiential space” for the company to engage its customers but he did not elaborate further. We will just have to wait and see.

Microsoft is currently playing catch up as its main competitor Apple got a head start in the retail world with exclusive locations around the globe. Since 2009, Microsoft has been aggressively pushing to widen its retail presence as the company has opened 104 physical retail stores in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico with plans to open 10 more stores just before the holiday season. The software giant has also opened mini-stores inside of more than 600 Best Buy locations.

Having a flagship store in such a location is very important for Microsoft, it will serve as the brand’s face, and it has the power to change the perception of the company if the retail experience is executed well.  This is a step in the right direction for the company, and continuing this trend in major European cities is crucial  for bringing a positive perception for the Microsoft brand.

Source: The Wall Street Journal Image: Cassandra Giraldo for The Wall Street Journal

Surface 2 gets a $100 price drop until September 27

surface 2

Microsoft has dropped the price off of all its Surface 2 configurations as a promo until September 27.  The 32GB version of the Surface 2 now starts at $349 while the 64B version will cost $449. Microsoft also discounted the LTE version with AT&T which will now go for $579.

These discounts are available at Microsoft’s online store and their retail locations.

Surface 2 comes with a free copy of a full-featured Microsoft Office 2013, 200GB of OneDrive storage as well as unlimited minutes and WiFi calling for Skype.

For those of you who won’t need to run desktop applications that aren’t Microsoft Office, this may be the perfect device for you. Surface 2 runs on Windows RT which will not enable the installation of desktop applications, but will come with a full Windows desktop that has its advantages.

There have been rumors of Microsoft releasing a new Surface RT tablet and it’s also back to school time.  Surface 2 still remains the best productivity tablet on the market by far (not counting Surface Pro models), with its ability to multitask, offering a full Windows desktop, a free copy of Microsoft Office 2013, USB 3.0, and expandable storage. With its ability to work with thousands of printers and peripherals, it really is in a class of its own at it’s price range.

Check it out at Microsoft’s online store

Microsoft allegedly opening a large and flashy store in New York next to the Apple Store

microsoft store

Microsoft has many stores across the US, and they just recently announced another 13 retail locations they plan to open in the US and Canada.  However, there still isn’t a Microsoft store in New York City – believe it or not.

The Ney York Daily news today reported that Microsoft is in negotiations to open their first ever store on Fifth Avenue in New York City.  The exact location would be 677 Fifth Avenue, and it looks to be in a massive 8700-square foot two-storey space.  This space was recently occupied by luxury fashion brand Fendi.

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An interesting part to this location is that this puts the potential Microsoft Store near Apple’s iconic glass cube store on  767 Fifth Avenue. Microsoft isn’t new to this tactic and is known to open stores near its rivals in many instances.

Rent in locations such as these are the priciest in the US, and has been known to top a whopping $3,500 per square foot in recent deals.

Microsoft held a small retail store in Manhattan at the launch of the Surface back in 2012, but it was only a temporary set up.  This time they look to go big, and a flashy location such as this is a fantastic showroom for their products, now that they have a full hardware product line ranging from PC accessories, to smartphones, tablets,  and the Xbox.

Source: The NY Daily News

 

List of 13 new Microsoft retail stores across the US and Canada unveiled

microsoft store

Ever since the first Microsoft store opened in 2009, the software giant has been on a steady rollout of retail stores across North America. Microsoft stores are an important strategy in connecting the company directly with the consumer.  With Microsoft controlling the full retail experience, their stores are a wonderful way for consumers to experience the company’s products  and services, as they are displayed in the most effective way and accompanied by knowledgeable and friendly staff.

Microsoft’s store staff are known to be very welcoming and do a fantastic job of explaining the many technologies Microsoft has to offer.

A recent list of job postings unveils the next 13 locations Microsoft plans to open.  Although the exact time of openings are unknown, we can expect to wait a few months.  Here are the new locations.

  • Chinook Centre in Calgary, AB Canada
  • The Streets at Southpoint in Durham, NC
  • Westfield Topanga in Canoga Park, CA (opens September 21st)
  • Baybrook Mall in Friendswood, TX
  • SouthPark in Charlotte, NC
  • Destiny USA in Syracuse, NY
  • NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX
  • Chandler Fashion Center in Chandler, AZ
  • Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie, LA
  • Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, MD
  • Los Cerritos Center in Cerritos, CA
  • Toronto Eaton Centre in Toronto, ON Canada
  • Woodland Hills Mall, Tulsa, OK

Microsoft will have a total of nine retail stores in Canada (specialty store in Eaton Centre will most likely be replaced by full store), a total of 100 in the United States and one in Puerto Rico.  Adding these locations brings Microsoft Store count to 110, which include specialty as well as full retail stores.

Although Microsoft doesn’t control the 500 Windows Stores at Best Buy, it is still a fantastic showcase of their products, and a critical presence that will help Microsoft in the long run.

Source: WinBeta

Microsoft Store in US/Canada cuts the price of Surface Pro 2 as the Pro 3 launch looms

en-INTL_L_Surface_Pro_2_64GB_5HX-00001_RM2_mncoIn a bid to clear the inventory of Surface Pro 2 and make room for the incoming 3rd generation of the tablet/laptop hybrid, last month Microsoft started reducing the prices of the Surface Pro 2 starting with their UK online store.

Today we learned that Microsoft has slashed the price of Surface Pro 2 in US and Canada, by $100 to $200 depending on the model.

The entry-level 64 GB model of Surface Pro 2 now goes for $799 (previously $899) and the high-end models featuing 256/512 GB hard drive are discounted by $200.

Get Surface Pro 2 @ Microsoft Store US

Get Surface Pro 2 @ Microsoft Store Canada