Microsoft’s bricks-and-mortar retail operation set to return from the grave? Not quite

Microsoft is set to reopen some of its stores for sales to the general public.

The move comes weeks after Google shared its plans for a retail presence in New York and nearly a year after the Windows giant pulled the shutters down on its bricks-and-mortar retail operation.

Back then Microsoft described the decision to close the outlets as a “strategic change in its retail operations,” which brought to an end a 10-plus-year adventure on the high street (or shopping mall). The axe swinging followed the closure of its pop-up kiosks the previous year.

While all the shuttered stores will not be reopening, the company will be allowing the public to purchase bits of kit from “Microsoft Experience Centers” in New York, Sydney, and London. The latter location was opened in 2019 but did not manage even a year of trading before the pandemic closed its doors and the beancounters made it permanent (for retail purposes at least).

A Microsoft spokesperson told The Register: “Our Microsoft Experience Centers were created to provide customers a way to experience our products in person. We use these spaces to test and experiment, and continue to evolve the experience based on customer feedback. Starting July 1, customers will be able to purchase select Microsoft products at the New York, London and Sydney locations.”

Much like Apple fans visiting the company’s network of “Geniuses”, Surface and Xbox customers can also use the Experience Centers to get their in-warranty borked gizmos fixed (assuming that a trek to one of the remaining locations is not too onerous).

There is no word on what kit will be available for purchase; some of the company’s Xbox consoles have been in short supply since launch. However, we strongly doubt that customers with a desire for something featuring Surface branding will leave disappointed. ®

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