Microsoft is apparently pleased enough with its four existing retail shops to build dozens more Microsoft Stores in the future.
Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s chief operating officer, revealed the plans during last week’s Worldwide Partner Conference, and Softpedia just picked up on his remarks. Turner didn’t give specifics on when or where Microsoft will open its next batch of retail stores, but we do know that Bellvue, Wash. location is on the way.
From Turner’s comments, it seems like Microsoft values the experience of interacting with customers more than any direct profits gleaned. He noted that the stores have been “an incredible learning vehicle for us” and said “direct contact with consumers in the community is awesome and it’s an awesome thing for us to do.”
The existing stores — in Mission Viejo and San Diego, Calif., Scottsdale, Ariz., and Lone Tree, Colo. — are quite Apple-like, with big tables full of tech products, roving employees and a counter for tech support. (It seems that Microsoft’s failed efforts at cool remain intact.) They also have some unique features, like Microsoft Surface and the ability to order a PC game and have it printed on demand.
In the near future, Microsoft could really use more retail stores for two major product launches. One is Kinect for Xbox 360, a motion-sensing camera that goes on sale in November. Given that Kinect requires roughly six feet of room according to Amazon, I’m not sure how many other retailers will want to dedicate the floor space to hands-on demos. Microsoft, on the other hand, is already showing off the technology at its existing stores.
The other product is Windows Phone 7. At any other retailer, the guy behind the counter could recommend an iPhone, Android phone or Blackberry to customers. Microsoft’s going to want a place to pitch Windows Phone 7 face-to-face.
So when Turner says “we’re going to build dozens more stores,” that ought to be sooner rather than later.