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Microsoft opens its first flagship retail store

Microsoft Inc. is all set to open its first flagship brick-and-mortar retail store in New York City’s famed Fifth Avenue, just a few blocks away from Apple’s Fifth Avenue Store. It’s a big day for the company that brought us Windows and Office. To celebrate the grand opening of the flagship store in the heart of Manhattan, Microsoft will also host a community concert Monday night with renowned rapper Pitbull at Rockefeller Center. The doors of the striking new Microsoft Store will open to the public on Monday, with a vibrant retail space that showcases the best of Microsoft products and services. Microsoft’s Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner will host the inaugural ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The flagship store comes at an auspicious time as the Surface Book, the company’s first-ever hybrid laptop, and Surface Pro 4 will be available for purchase from the New York Store and other Microsoft stores starting today. The flagship store, at 677 Fifth Ave., is one of more than 110 retail stores across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. It is the first Microsoft Store to extend two stories, and at 22,269 square feet, is the largest to date. The store has been under construction for months, though Microsoft wouldn’t reveal how much it cost to build.

“One of our goals, since we started the stores in 2009, was to have a real marquee location where we could bring an expanded retail presence,” said Kelly Soligon, general manager, Worldwide Marketing, Microsoft Retail and Online Stores.

“Frequently, we’re asked by customers, ‘When are you coming to my city?’ and New York has been one of the top requests. Waiting for that perfect real estate location, which we were able to secure last year, and building out the right footprint, is super exciting for us.”

The Microsoft Store is yet another extension of the company’s deep ties to New York and a commitment to provide a wide array of best-in-class products that take advantage of powerful and versatile hardware to unlock new Windows 10 experiences, including the new Surface, Lumia and Microsoft Band devices, Signature Edition PCs, Xbox One, Office, and a variety of other accessories. The flagship store is the only location to showcase Microsoft Surface Hub. Also, the New York Store will be among the few to feature Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality glasses.              

“The larger footprint means a deeper customer experience of Microsoft’s ecosystem in what we consider to be one of the greatest shopping districts in the world,” Soligan said. “It really is an awesome canvas to be able to highlight products and have them come to life for customers.”

As part of the flagship opening, Microsoft is donating more than $3 million in software and technology grants to 14 New York organizations, which are largely focused on education and helping youths. Recipients include All Star Code, Brooklyn Children's Museum, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Directions for Our Youth, National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, New York Botanical Garden, New York Hall of Science, Per Scholas, PowerMyLearning, Staten Island Children's Museum, Staten Island MakerSpace, We Connect the Dots, and Women's Housing Economic Development Corp. The work and donations are part of Microsoft’s larger goal of empowering communities with technology, training and experiences.

And then there’s the Answer Desk, Microsoft’s answer to Apple Genius Bar, which resides on the second floor, much of which is devoted to Xbox gaming experiences and a workshop area where people can take courses on everything from Minecraft to the Azure enterprise-level cloud computing platform. People can bring their PCs to the Answer Desk, regardless of whether or not they were purchased from a Microsoft Store, and get free tech support. There will also be a fleet of ‘Associates’ scattered throughout the store to help customers with everything. High-definition video walls and digital signage will be featured throughout the store to engage directly with visitors while streaming videos, images and information.

“For us it’s about sitting down and educating you,” David McAughan,COO for Microsoft Retail and Online Stores said. “It’s very similar to test driving a car. It’s one of the reasons they’re so keen to get you into a car; once you do, you’ll fall in love with it. We want to get deep into that conversation of what it’s capable of, why this would work in whatever use you need.”