Aside from the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 going on sale, today is another important milestone for Microsoft's retail ambitions.
The Redmond, Wash., technology company opened the doors to its first flagship store in New York today. Located at 677 Fifth Avenue, between 53rd and 54th Streets, the store is situated in a popular and heavily touristed stretch of prime Manhattan real estate. It's also a short distance from Apple's iconic flagship store and its iconic glass cube entrance, also on Fifth Avenue.
Formerly the home of Fendi, a luxury fashion brand, the two-story, 22,269-square-foot site is the largest Microsoft Store to date, according to the company. Currently, the company operates over 100 locations in the United States and Puerto Rico.
"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 of Worldwide Marketing for Microsoft Retail and Online Stores, in a statement.
One of the store's most striking features is a 40-foot wide, 20-foot high "culture wall" that will be used to display scenes and artistic images that are representative of the area.
Providing a spacious showcase for the company's own growing hardware business, as well as offerings from its OEM hardware partners, the store features a Genius Bar-like Answers Desk, where New York City area customers can consult with experts about their PC and Windows device support needs. The flagship store's Answer Desk is the largest of its kind, the company said.
To make a favorable impression on shoppers, Microsoft has Signature Edition PCs on display. Using a special clean and secure Windows image, the systems are free of the add-on software, or "bloatware," that OEMs often bundle with their devices and that negatively affect performance.
Microsoft also hopes to build stronger ties with the locals. "Our store on Fifth Avenue—as well as every other one of our locations across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada—is here to showcase the best of Microsoft to the local community," said David Porter, corporate vice president, Worldwide Retail and Online Stores at Microsoft. "We exist to build relationships with our customers, one person at a time, and we are excited to do that on Fifth Avenue starting today."
The store features two community theaters, which will host community events and classes. "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," Soligon added.
Microsoft opened its first retail stores in 2009. In the six years since, "Microsoft has expanded its retail footprint and online presence to serve more than 1 billion customers through the company's community-based retail strategy," the company revealed in an Oct. 26 announcement. "Today, more than 80 percent of Americans live within 20 miles of a Microsoft store, with more than 110 stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, as well as online stores operating in 189 countries."