Like many retailers, Microsoft stores closed during the closing of the global pandemic. The lingering question was: when would they reopen? Now Microsoft has an answer for us, never. The company has announced that it will permanently close all but four of its Microsoft stores, and that it will “reinvent” the other four in a way that does not include retail sales.
Although often mocked as an “imitation of the Apple Store,” Microsoft stores were very different. They offered free computer services, such as virus removal, sold laptops and desktops made by several manufacturers, from Dell to Acer. Microsoft stores have also run free courses for Boy Scout and Boy Scout badges and for anyone who wants to learn Office products.
You can head to a Microsoft Store to try the latest Xbox game or experience a virtual reality set. And of course, they presented Surface products like Surface Studio and Surface Book. The Microsoft Store debuted in 2009, and has grown to more than 100 locations worldwide, most of them based in the United States.
Stores closed during the global pandemic, but Microsoft continued to pay its employees regular compensation. And it offered these employees the opportunity to earn additional compensation by pivoting into distance education positions. When the Microsoft stores closed, the Microsoft teams took off and many companies quickly found the need for training.
Microsoft says that if the company closes its stores, that does not mean that it abandons the employees of the Microsoft Store. Instead, they will continue to occupy the same positions they held during the pandemic, working remotely or on site in businesses.
As for the four remaining sites in London, NYC, Sydney and the Redmond campus, these will reopen, but they will change. These four flagship stores were already different from other Microsoft stores and designated Microsoft experience centers, but the company says it will reinvent the spaces to better serve all customers.
The move is not without cost, and Microsoft says it will result in a pretax charge of around $ 450 million. What remains to be seen is whether what it saves is greater than what it loses in the goodwill and relationships established by Microsoft Stores.