Best Buy Locations To Include 'Windows Stores'
Microsoft announced a plan to open "Windows Stores" inside Best Buy locations across North America.
The stores, which are meant to complement Best Buy's existing online Windows Store, will open in late June through September, according to Microsoft's announcement on Thursday. They will be spread across 500 Best Buy locations in the United States and 100 in Canada, and range in size from 1,500 square feet to 2,200 square feet. Microsoft says the stores will be staffed by over 1,200 Microsoft-trained salespeople.
The Windows Stores will carry a range of Microsoft products, including tablets and PCs, Microsoft's Surface devices, Windows Phones and the Xbox.
Best Buy already has store-within-a-store arrangements with Apple and Samsung. However, in an interview with CNET, Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela indicated that the Windows Stores will take up more more space inside Best Buy than Apple and Samsung do -- an average of 10 times as much space as Apple and five times as much as Samsung.
Microsoft opened three "trial locations" of the Windows Store on Thursday, according to CNET: Rochester, Minn.; Ft. Worth, Texas; and Louisville, Texas.
Capossela shared a few more details about the stores' layout in a blog post Thursday.
"It's something that has to be seen to be believed. Looking at the store head-on, it will feature an innovation table in the front, highlighting the newest and best Windows technologies of the moment. There will be a dedicated Surface area and central showcase tables with the latest and greatest PCs, laptops, convertibles and more. The back wall will feature software and accessories. And there's an ecosystem section with real-life scenarios across Windows devices. This ecosystem area is exciting, because it will show off stuff like Xbox SmartGlass and SkyDrive," Capossela said.
He also noted that Microsoft products will not be kept to just inside the Windows Stores, but will also be in display throughout Best Buy at the appropriate departments.
"It goes well beyond the computing department in these 600 stores," Capossela said. "It also means we will have a great Windows tablet table inside the Best Buy Tablet Department, Windows Phones in their Phone Department, and lots of space for Xbox in their Gaming and Home Theater Departments. So there will be a big Windows experience where we bring everything together, but we'll also look great in the other departments where people go."
One of the goals of the stores, Capossela said, is to give customers access to more touch-first devices and a better idea of how disparate Microsoft products work together.
In the months since Windows 8's launch, Microsoft has focused on expanding its retail presence. Last fall, it announced it was ramping up the number of its brick-and-mortar Microsoft Store locations, and also launched a number of temporary mall kiosks for the 2012 holiday season, some of which have become permanent. Microsoft also announced late last year that it would allow third-party retailers, including Best Buy, to sell its line of Surface tablets.
"We're committed to our Microsoft Stores. With 68 stores open in North America, we're seeing great success in our growing network. The Windows Store at Best Buy is really just another great opportunity to reach customers in more places and give them choice in their technology-buying experience," Capossela said. "We've taken learnings from the Microsoft Store into the Windows Store at Best Buy, and we ultimately feel this is another great channel to offer a superior experience for the millions of customers who rely on Best Buy to purchase their PCs."
Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editor of Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and AWSInsider.net, and the editorial director of Converge360.