Microsoft Closing Most of Its Retail Stores

Microsoft on Friday announced a major shift in its retail operations, with plans to close most of its physical Microsoft Store outlets in favor of online sales.

Exceptions to the store closures will be the "Microsoft Experience Centers in London, NYC, Sydney, and Redmond campus locations," according to the announcement. Microsoft has about 83 physical stores located worldwide, with most located in the United States.

Microsoft Store retail employees will continue to serve consumers, small business, education and enterprise customers, but it'll happen via online support from "Microsoft corporate locations." Microsoft's store employees have been working from home since March, when Microsoft initially closed its physical stores to address COVID-19 public health concerns.

Microsoft claims it's had "significant growth through its digital storefronts." In addition to sales, its store employees conduct remote online tutorials, virtual workshops and technical support sessions.

The store closings will cost Microsoft "approximately $450M," mostly in writeoffs, which will get reported at the end of the current quarter on June 30, 2020. Microsoft now includes COVID-19 as part of its legal "forward-looking statements" describing how its businesses can be adversely affected.

"As we look forward, we start a new chapter for Microsoft Store," stated David Porter, corporate vice president of Microsoft Store, in a LinkedIn post. "Our team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location. We are energized about the opportunity to innovate in how we engage with all customers, optimize our talent for greatest impact, and most importantly -- help our valued customers achieve more."

Microsoft Stores had been a somewhat convenient place for consumers to bring in their PCs with technical problems. For instance, almost a year and a half ago, Microsoft suggested bringing in PCs that had been affected by a Windows 10 version 1809 data loss flaw.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.