Microsoft Expands Retail Play as Windows 8 Launch Nears
In preparation for the Windows 8 launch in late October, Microsoft plays catch-up on the retail front by opening 32 temporary Microsoft storefronts in malls across the country. Will it be enough to sell a bold, new OS like Windows 8?
Eye on Microsoft
By Shane O'Neill, CIO
To bring more Windows 8 tablets, ultrabooks and desktops to the people, Microsoft is ambitiously opening 32 temporary pop-up storefronts in malls across the U.S. and in a few locations in Canada.
Microsoft now has 23 full-on brick-and-mortar stores, with the most recent store opening in downtown Boston. Compared to Apple’s 250 stores in America, Microsoft is definitely behind the retail curve.
The new holiday storefronts will help supplement Microsoft’s lack of presence in key areas. There will be a wide spectrum of locations, from major cities like New York City, San Francisco and Miami to smaller market cities like Bethesda, MD, and Tulsa, OK to suburban towns like Braintree, MA and Paramus, NJ.
The storefronts will start appearing after Windows 8’s release on Oct. 26 and will first and foremost push Windows 8 tablets (namely the Microsoft-branded Surface tablet) and ultrabooks as well as Windows Phone 8 smartphones. The stores will also include Microsoft staples such as Office software and Xbox 360 and Kinect gaming systems. Much like the current full stores, the pop-up storefronts will include video walls where customers can test out Xbox and Kinect games.
As for full-on stores, Microsoft said it plans to open new stores in the coming months in San Juan, PR, Salem, NH and Cincinnati, OH, and the first Canadian store in Toronto.
Windows 8, with its bold but risky new tile-based user interface, will not sell itself; it’s too much of disruptive change from Windows 7 and will intimidate many Windows users. Microsoft will have to bring it to the people through aggressive advertising and, yes, retail stores. Having only 23 stores is not going to cut it. It’s as if Microsoft suddenly realized, “Holy crap, Windows 8 is a month and a half from launch and we only 23 stores!”
But seriously, the storefronts do make a lot of sense. Even if the stores are only up and running for a few months, the months following the Windows 8 launch could well be the most important time in Microsoft’s history. If Windows 8 fizzles out of the gates, it will have a hard time recovering, and if WIndows 8 goes, so goes Microsoft’s chances of competing in the incredibly important tablet market.
Microsoft promised to announce additional holiday storefront locations and details in the coming weeks.
Here’s the current list of malls where Microsoft will open pop-up holiday storefronts:
· Aventura Mall — Aventura, FL
· Beachwood Place — Beachwood, OH
· Cherry Creek Shopping Center — Denver, CO
· Dadeland Mall — Miami, FL
· Eaton Centre — Toronto, ON
· Fashion Mall at Keystone — Indianapolis, IN
· Fashion Show Mall — Las Vegas, NV
· Glendale Galleria — Glendale, CA
· Mall at Green Hills — Nashville, TN
· Mall in Columbia — Columbia, MD
· Metropolis at Metrotown — Burnaby, BC
· Montgomery Mall — Bethesda, MD
· Natick Collection — Natick, MA
· North Star Mall — San Antonio, TX
· Oakridge Centre — Vancouver, BC
· Penn Square Mall — Oklahoma City, OK
· Perimeter Mall — Atlanta, GA
· Roosevelt Field Mall — Garden, City, NY
· Ross Park Mall — Pittsburgh, PA
· Saint Louis Galleria — St. Louis, MO
· San Francisco Centre — San Francisco, CA
· South Shore Plaza — Braintree, MA
· Southpark Mall — Charlotte, NC
· Stonebriar Centre Mall — Frisco, TX
· Streets at Southpoint — Durham, NC
· Time Warner Center – The Shops at Columbus Circle — New York, NY