Microsoft Corp. stepped up its retail play with the announcement yesterday that it will be opening Windows Stores inside 100 Best Buy and Future Shop locations in Canada and another 500 Best Buy stores in the United States.
The store-within-a-store areas will range in size from 1,500 square feet to 2,000 square feet and will be stocked with a range of Microsoft products including Windows tablets and PCs, Windows Phones, Xbox consoles and Microsoft software.
“Well unlike a lot of store-within-a-store concepts, this will actually be a department-level takeover within Best Buy stores,” said Chris Capossela, chief marketing officer at Microsoft in a blog. “…There will be an additional 1,200 staff on hand to provide a great customer experience whether it’s choosing the right PC or showing customers how to stream Xbox music through their Surface.”
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In November last year the Redmond, Wash-based company already opened its first Microsoft store at the Yorkdale Mall in Toronto. That store, which was located just a steps from an Apple Store, closely mirrored the showroom concept of Microsoft’s rival.
Earlier this week, Microsoft also opened its first Microsoft technology Centre in Mississauga. The centre is a showroom for Microsoft’s enterprise services. Like other MTCs around the world, it serves as a resource centre for corporate clients who are using or planning to use Microsoft services for their business.
MTCs are controlled environments where customers are sorrounded with a sampling of Microsoft’s latest offerings including the companies Surface tabletop computers and Windows 8 mobile devices. However, its primary goal appears to be to showcae Microsoft’s cloud-based tools and services for businesses such as Office 365.
The new Windows Stores on the other hand, is meant cast a spotlight on Microsoft’s latest Windows mobile devices in the consumer envirnment and provide the company with an opportunity to connect on a more physical level with its customers with a partnership component with Best Buy.
“It goes well beyond the computing department experience in these 600 stores,” said Capossela. “So there will be a big Windows experience where we bring everything together, but we’ll also look great in the other departments where people go. And of course we also extend the partnership to Best Buy’s online experience.”