Microsoft opens flagship store in Manhattan

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Microsoft Retail Experience Replaces Fendi on Fifth Avenue; Line at the ‘Answer Desk’.

The Microsoft Flagship Store celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony, and PCMag’s Sascha Segan was on hand to check out the five-floor, 22,000-square-foot store.I and a throng of journalists packed a double-decker tour bus this morning to get an overhead glimpse as (MSFT) executives cut the ribbon on the company’s new flagship store on Fifth Avenue, five blocks down from Apple’s (AAPL) flagship store. At first glance, you might think it looks an awful lot like a certain other tech company’s flagship retail stores, including this one just a few blocks up the street. Whether you’re eyeing a new Surface tablet, Lumia smartphone, or Microsoft Band fitness tracker, the company’s latest hardware is on display, as are Signature Edition PCs, the Xbox One, Office software, and a variety of accessories.

It was awesome,” Microsoft’s excitable Panos Panay told Wired today in a story on the Surface Book convertible laptop, which is now available for sale. The first 1,000 people in line today received complimentary tickets to Redmond’s community concert featuring Pitbull, which kicks off at 8 p.m. tonight in Rockefeller Center. The store was packed, with crowds on all three of the floors of the former Fendi building at 677 Fifth Avenue, sitting between Tommy Hilfiger and Stuart Weizman.

When the ribbon was cut, and the sheet sitting behind the glass came down, dozens of Microsoft staffers danced up and down behind the glass facade in their primary-colored Microsoft tees. Since opening its first brick-and-mortar shop six years ago, Microsoft has expanded its retail presence with more than 110 stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada.

Walking up the brightly lit white staircase that wraps around the glass elevator, you come to the second floor, which is open around the center to give a view down into the first floor. But this is its first massive flagship store. “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,” Kelly Soligon, general manager of Worldwide Marketing for Microsoft Retail and Online Stores, said in a statement. “Frequently, we’re asked by customers, ‘When are you coming to my city?’ and New York has been one of the top requests,” she continued. “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.” On the third floor of Microsoft’s new Fifth Avenue location, visitors will find The Dell Experience, which showcases the full range of Dell products, from the XPS, Inspiron, and Precision computers to Alienware gaming products. Shortly after that, however, close readers of the Surface Pro 3 user manual noticed several references to the Surface Mini that Microsoft apparently had failed to scrub.

The new Microsoft Store, on the other hand, has somewhat darker wood tables, and the walls feature a lot of blue, and a few other primary colors, in addition to white. There’s also an answer desk for technical questions, troubleshooting, and repairs (team members speak a total of 19 languages); a community theater for training sessions and hosting in-store events; high-definition video walls that stream videos, images, and information; and the culture wall to display noncommercial, artistic images. Not far from the Answer Desk is the theater, with two giant-sized screens on each side that can be used for workshops, product training, and community events.

There’s also an area with seating at the front of the floor, near the window, facing a couple of giant screens, for things such as workshops. groups were seated watching a display of Minecraft, the video game system Microsoft bought a year ago. Recipients include All Star Code, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 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. “This is something that is super important to us and really layers back up to the company’s mission of how we are helping people achieve more,” Soligon said. “We really strive to be part of the fabric of every community where we operate.” It’s basically a giant desk near the back of the store where you can go to talk to a Microsoft representative about the problems you’re having with Microsoft products. As to what she hopes to do differently from her neighbors up the block, or other retailers, Soligon said “We just want it to be an awesome experience,” adding that the goals included “how do we get people to be able to put their hands on things and see the products they are interested in.” That includes in-store displays of Minecraft products and also hardware from partners, such as Dell. “We’ve had a desire for a flagship store since 2009,” said Soligon, which is when Microsoft opened its first store, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Soligon had a lot to say about community and charitable initiatives tied to the store. “Core to what Microsoft does is giving back,” she said, noting Microsoft donates over a billion dollars worth of technology every year to various institutions, including schools. The second-floor video space is intended not only for hands-on training but also to host community projects such as a video training class for a local school. While the store is normally open the typical retail hours — which will probably be 9 to 9 — tonight is special, as it is the retail availability of Microsoft’s “Halo 5: Guardians” video game.

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