Almost 11 years after opening its first bricks and mortar retail store, Microsoft had 83 stores around the world at the start of this year.

Now the company says it’s closing them all and instead shift its focus to online sales through the existing Microsoft.com as well as the Microsoft Store apps for Windows and Xbox. The company says it’s able to reach more than “1.2 billion people every month in 190 markets” through those online channels.

Microsoft Store in Sydney

According to The Verge, Microsoft had planned to close its retail stores sometime in 2021. But the global COVID-19 pandemic seems to have prompted the company to accelerate its plans.

Microsoft already closed its physical stores in March in response to the pandemic. And the company has yet to re-open any of those locations. Now it looks like they’ll stay closed… although Microsoft says it plans to convert four locations to “Microsoft Experience Centers.” Once that change is made, folks in New York, London, Sydney, and Redmond will be able to visit to see the latest technologies from Microsoft, but those spots won’t be retail stores anymore.

Microsoft says it will take a $450 million loss due to the closing of its stores. But the company does not plan to layoff its retail workers. Microsoft has continued paying its staff during the pandemic, while those employees have taken on new customer support and education roles such as providing training for Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams users, among other things.

In the future some of those employees may continue to work remotely, while others may eventually take jobs at Microsoft corporate offices.

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7 Comments

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  1. Well that’s a bummer. I always liked going into the Microsoft stores and even purchased my Surface Go there instead of ordering online.

  2. I guess this was an obvious move for them. I always enjoyed visiting the Microsoft Stores whenever I was visiting a city that had one. However, it was always obvious that those stores were mostly a PR and exposure effort for Microsoft.

  3. When I had a Surface and a Windows phone (ah my beloved Lumia 925…), it was great to be able to go to a Microsoft store and talk with the employees. But that was long ago.

  4. Huh. I guess there were two of these stores in a couple malls in my state. I haven’t been to any of those malls in years and didn’t realize that Microsoft even had stores there.

    I wonder what they had in there. Just the Surface? Maybe an Xbox? Boxes of Office software?
    Seems pointless.

    1. I’ve been to a couple of them (one in a suburban mall, one in a mall on Michigan Ave in Chicago). They had Xboxes, Surfaces, non-Microsoft laptops, and also a handful of MS peripherals. (I bought a portable bluetooth keyboard from one of the stores.) Once upon a time had Windows phones and non-Surface Windows tablets as well. It seems that most of the people who walk in the door are there to mess around with an Xbox, but I’d suspect most of their sales came from people getting a Surface.

      The original idea was that the stores would partially exist to advertise Microsoft’s hardware and hopefully turn in to something like the Apple Store. That might have happened had Windows Phone worked out. But it didn’t.

    2. When Windows Phone was a thing, they had all of those. They tried to copy the Apple Store, but I guess it didn’t work as well, especially once they stopped caring about phones, and Windows RT, and…

      1. By all accounts MS made money off these stores. Not Apple money, but pretty decent for retail. They sold other brands equipment that ran Windows as well as their own.