Microsoft to open retail stores in Europe

Microsoft stores, which will sell Xbox 360 games, hardware and PC titles, are to be opened in major European cities such as London, according to gaming site MCV.

Neowin reported earlier this month that the stores, owned and operated by Microsoft, would be headed by David Porter - a 25-year veteran of retail giant, Wal-Mart.

The move is often seen as an attempt to compete with Apple, who opened their first retail store in 2001 and now has some 251 stores Worldwide, although Sony's Sony Centres would also provide another competitor for Microsoft's retail stores.

A Redmond-based source told MCV, "Porter and his newly created retail stores team will drive the planning and timing of store locations. Our target is a small number of high profile experience stores in a few major cities around the world."

"Our main objective is to change the buying experience for consumers around the world – to show and demonstrate Microsoft's key consumer products in a deeper and more meaningful way, making it more simple and easy for consumers to purchase PCs and devices that truly meet their specific needs."

Some people have expressed concerns over how this move will affect Microsoft's relationship with retailers, however Microsoft believes they will benefit from the opening of official Microsoft stores.

"The partnerships we have today with retailers around the world will continue to be an important focus area for the company and will benefit from these efforts. One of the goals of opening Microsoft stores is to better engage with consumers and gain a better understanding of the consumer PC and device purchase experience. We expect to apply these learnings across our existing retail relationships as well as in our own stores."

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They don't really need it though. Windows can be found at every major retailer, on all the display computers. In fact, I find it hard to see this as "competing with Apple" when even Macs are running Windows!

I think it's fair to say that Apple needs their stores though as their advertising for OS X doesn't really tell all too much. They need to get people face to face with their OS and computers. Microsoft on the other hand doesn't really have to.

Here's my question. Does opening Microsoft retail shops affect the selling of Xboxes etc in places like HMV (or Gamestop in the US, for example)?

Possibly a fine against "monopolistic" acts? After all, MS is abusing its position as a monopoly to sell only MS stuff in their retail stores. Wouldn't that be illegal? MS must sell competing products in their retail stores!

Argument holds, doesn't it?

So you mean, if you go to a Gucci bag store, they should have other bags on the shelve also?
And NIKE should sell Adidas?
And Ferrari should sell Porsche?

I believe this is a mistake. I would rather see them setup in store displays within existing stores (in a manner similiar to what Apple did in Best Buy). Granted my example is flawed because Apple has their own retail stores but you can see my point.

They already do a lot of this. When the Zune came out I remember they had people working at Best Buy and Target, etc, to promote the products and help customers. Not sure it worked all that well.

I remember watching an older couple ask the Microsoft rep to help them pick out an iPod for their granddaughter. The rep took it all in stride.

Didn't expect them to go out of America so early on which is good news. Microsoft need this to show what Windows etc. on a clean machine can do along with showing how it does other stuff like Windows Media Center, Xbox 360 etc. It will surprise a lot of people I bet. Look forward to seeing how they pull it off. Microsoft does have some neat stuff that never gets limelight in the right way.

... and what a waste of energy! Me thinks m$ strategy is not innovative. Amazon's business model seems better. The future resides in digital downloads... at least as soon as everyone gets decent brooooadband connections.

I disagree Jamesyfx. I would very much like a store where I could go and try out thet latest Microsoft keyboards, mice, Xbox accessories, etc. It'll also be nice to have a place buy games and software. Of course the prices would have to be right. I would expect the prices to be lower than say PC World. Buying direct from source SHOULD be cheaper. If they're not, then = fail.

And Marshalus, I lol'd at your reply

It's just not selling software (or hardware...) but I presume it will also be a showcase of Microsoft's technology directly to the public, instead of relying on third party retailers to try showing off Microsoft products. You know, stuff like Surface units, maybe some cool demos of the latest things happening at Microsoft Research, their Windows Live software and services, etc.

Getting a retail store is a step towards connecting with users.

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