Microsoft Ramps Up Retail Store Openings
- By Jeffrey Schwartz
- September 28, 2012
Microsoft opened two retail stores in the suburbs of New York City on Friday, bringing the total number of locations up to 25.
The two stores are Microsoft's first in New York state. Continuing its push to extend its retail footprint, Microsoft will open two more this weekend, one in Salem, N.H. and the other in Newark, Del.
The two New York stores are located in the city of White Plains in Westchester County, just north of New York City, and in Long Island's Huntington Station in the Walt Whitman Mall. At the latter location, David McAughan, chief operating officer of Microsoft stores, was present for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The store is just three doors away from an Apple Store.
Microsoft's David McAughan at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Huntington Station store location. Credit: Jeffrey Schwartz
A Microsoft spokesman present at the Huntington Station grand opening event said in an interview that the company did not seek out the location due to its proximity to the Apple Store. "It's not a competitive tactic," he said. "We pick locations based on what's available in a mall that has the square footage we need. Obviously, where we are located tends to be places where there are tech competitors and other high-tech products."
In general, Microsoft has chosen to open its retail stores in upscale shopping malls located in the suburbs, looking to attract families and small businesses to its full line of software and a broad array of PCs, tablets and Windows Phones from its OEM partners. The stores also highlight Xbox hardware, including the Kinect motion-sensing input devices.
The store sports a modern décor with large video monitors encircling the walls of the entire location. Most of the floor space is dedicated to PCs and a few tablets from Acer, Asus, Dell, Hewlett-Packard Co., Lenovo, Samsung and Sony. There appeared to be more systems from Samsung than any other vendor.
It remains to be seen how much floor space Microsoft will re-allocate to its forthcoming Surface tablets and convertible PCs, expected to be released next month. The spokesman said Microsoft hasn't disclosed that information. The company plans to have 31 stores open when the Surface ships and to launch 34 temporary pop-up stores in malls for the holiday season.
Asked if those temporary stores could become permanent, the spokesman said, "We're open to possibilities."
Also at each location is the Answer Desk, analogous perhaps to Apple's Genius Bars. The Answer Desk will handle various issues including basic maintenance and repair, system upgrades and setups. The stores will also have classes and training. There is also a theater space in the back of the store that partners and organizations can use to hold sessions and conduct demonstrations.
|Microsoft Store employees at the Huntington Station location welcome the first customers. Credit: Jeffrey Schwartz |
|Inside the Microsoft Store at Huntington Station. Credit: Jeffrey Schwartz |
The stores are targeted at consumers and small businesses. Microsoft is also encouraging its channel partners who are members of the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) with the Small Business Competency to develop relationships at the local stores, through the Microsoft Store Partner Connection Program, announced during July's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto. The program will refer customers to partners based on their specialties. Microsoft said partners should reach out to the Business Development Specialist of their nearby store.
Robert Kratzke, president of Port Jefferson, N.Y.-based GlobeNet Solutions and a vice president in the New York chapter of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP), was at the Huntington Station grand opening event. Kratzke said the IAMCP is working with Microsoft to help partners leverage the stores.
"We are looking at ways to drive referrals out of the stores," Kratzke said. "There are unlimited possibilities."
To kick off the grand opening of the Huntington Station store, Microsoft's McAughan, flanked by local dignitaries, presented a $250,000 donation to The Mentoring Partnership of Long Island; a $250,000 software grant to the Children's Aid Society (aimed at enhancing literacy); and a $1 million grant to Junior Achievement, an organization that empowers young people toward improving literacy and career readiness.
Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.