MICROSOFT today opened its first retail store outside North America with hundreds of people lining up to get a look at the software giant’s move into the local retail market.
The double-storey glass fronted building sits in a prime position on Sydney’s busy Pitt Street Mall, just metres from Apple’s mammoth flagship store around the corner on George Street.
It was almost impossible to walk through the popular thoroughfare with onlookers desperately trying to get a glimpse of the new kid on the block and Microsoft fans lining up to get through the doors.
Once inside it was obvious the Seattle-based company had spared no expense on the fitout.
Laid out over about 500sq m, there are more than 190 large digital screens around the two levels with interactivity a key focus of the design.
The company’s new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 were on display as was Microsoft’s answer to the Apple Watch, the Microsoft Band 2, which went on sale today for the first time.
Minecraft, the hugely popular game that Microsoft acquired last year for $2.5 billion, also has a big presence in the store with customers able to play on devices and a large selection of accessories available to buy.
The company plans to significantly increase its work with the community and today gave The Smith Family $2.8 million to help towards children’s education. It is part of a commitment from Microsoft to spend more than $4 million on community projects with the new store being used to facilitate a lot of that work.
Tomorrow about a dozen students from a Mount Druitt public school will take part in coding lessons in the upstairs community centre.
It is Microsoft’s first bricks and mortar foray into the global market and the company’s head of international retail stores Travis Walter said Sydney was the obvious choice.
“You know what, why not Sydney? It’s a very tech savvy crowd and customers here love their technology and we knew we’d be successful here,” he said.
“This is such a fantastic location and lightning only strikes once so we had to take advantage of it.”
While Apple’s store around the corner is substantially bigger than its new neighbour, Mr Walter said people would be attracted to the new store because of the rich experiences and the massive reach Microsoft had.
“We serve and support anybody,” he said
“I don’t spend a lot of time on comparisons but I think what we do offer is that we’re cross platform — Office runs on every device, every ecosystem so we’d encourage everyone to come in.”
There are more than 110 stores across the United States and Canada and one in the US territory of Puerto Rico, but Sydney is only the second flagship store to open.