Microsoft has closed all of its one hundred and sixteen retail stores in a sudden move that caught most by surprise. While the stores have been closed since March, due to the pandemic, this permanent closure of all Microsoft retail stores was not expected.
Microsoft will instead turn it's "store" focus squarely to it's online store at www.microsoft.com/store. That virtual only store continues to grow at a solid pace and is clearly providing the "retail" channel that Microsoft needs, as opposed to competing with a physical store.
Personally, I'm disappointed to see the Microsoft Store close. Most people compare it to the Apple Store and declare it a failure because Microsoft never enjoyed the sustained foot traffic that the Apple Store does. While that may be true, I think the Microsoft Store had a purpose. It's where I saw my first Surface Book, which became my computer of choice for the past four years. Fast forward to this past January, and I saw the Surface Pro X at the Salt Lake City Microsoft Store and it has recently become my new computer of choice.
I also took advantage of the support experience at the Microsoft Store when my original Surface Book developed an out of warranty issue and was very pleased with the experience. After my MSP business was acquired, the acquiring company had an excellent relationship with the business team at the local Microsoft Store and we received leads and discounts from them and enjoyed a healthy, mutually beneficial business relationship with them.
When Microsoft closed it's stores in March, the retail employs continued their work remotely. Microsoft has said that all retail employees will be offered remote or office based positions with Microsoft. I applaud Microsoft for making sure their employees impacted by the closings are able to remain with the company. My own recent purchase experience was done entirely remotely with a Microsoft Store business rep and I was completely satisfied and well cared for. The experience of navigating the online store and working with a representative virtually was flawless and a pleasant experience that met my needs.
While I will miss the Microsoft Store, I understand Microsoft's move. Clearly they are having sufficient success with their online store, to the point that the expense of the physical store is no longer necessary. Perhaps a glimpse into one possible future of retail in the post pandemic world, once we get there.