Microsoft has taken the hard decision to close all 83 retail stores globally. Yes, the COVID-19 crisis has precipitated that.
Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Porter said of the Microsoft Store Closure
“Since the Microsoft Store locations closed in late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the local team has helped small businesses and education customers digitally transform. It has virtually trained hundreds of thousands of enterprise and education customers on remote work and learning software and helped customers with support calls. The team supported communities by hosting more than 14,000 online workshops and summer camps and more than 3,000 virtual graduations.”
The physical stores will remain closed. Microsoft says it has to ‘reimagine’ new spaces that serve all customers, including operating Microsoft Experience Centres in London, NYC, Sydney, and Redmond campus locations.
Post COVID-19 sales have convincingly moved online.
Microsoft knows that shop-front retailing of other brands of Windows devices and accessories is best left to third-party brick and mortar and online retailers.
Microsoft will continue to invest in its digital storefronts on Microsoft.com and Xbox Store. These already reach more than 1.2 billion people every month in 190 markets.
It says most Microsoft Store staff will move to Microsoft corporate facilities and continue to provide support.
GadgetGuy’s take – Microsoft store closure is a shame but not unexpected
Some say that former CEO Steve Ballmer established Microsoft stores to counter Apple’s retail incursion – and they would be right. But there is a huge difference between Apple and Microsoft that Ballmer could not comprehend.
Apple is a closed ecosystem – Its stores, authorised retailers and service agents service that well.
Microsoft is an open ecosystem. Millions of retail stores and service agents globally look after the Windows ecosystem extremely well without the Microsoft management overhead. And Microsoft does not really care if an HP, Lenovo, ASUS, Acer or a Whitebox sells over a Surface product. Windows is Windows on every device. It is all about the huge choice of devices to suit different needs.
I loved the Pitt Street Sydney Mall store as a place to paw over Windows devices. But it was just that – a place to see. Any serious purchases were then well-researched online and made at a brick and mortar store (if the item was in stock and similarly priced) or online.
You can read recent Microsoft product reviews and news here.