Microsoft adds five more 'specialty' outlets to its store roster

Microsoft adds five more 'specialty' outlets to its store roster

Summary: Small-footprint 'specialty' stores in malls and shopping centers are a new, key focus for Microsoft with its retail-store push.


Microsoft is continuing to slowly and steadily add more brick-and-mortar stores to its roster -- but with a new twist.


Rather than opening nothing but full-service, large-scale locations, the Softies are adding more small-footprint "specialty store" locations across the U.S. and Canada. These "specialty stores" are what Microsoft has rechristened its holiday pop-up stores.

On the Microsoft Store Facebook page, Microsoft describes these specialty stores as "scaled-down Microsoft retail stores that carry a curated selection of the best products Microsoft has to offer." 

In its full-size stores, Microsoft showcases and sells everything from a fairly broad selection of Windows PCs and tablets, to its own Surface PC/tablet hybrids, Xboxes, Kinects, games, software, mice, keyboards and more. A spokesperson said the specialty stores also will carry the Surfaces (Pro and RT), Xbox/Kinect and games, Windows Phone 8, Office 365, Office 2013 and Windows 8 PCs from third party manufacturers.

Microsoft is opening five new specialty stores in April in the following locations:

  • Fashion Place Mall (Murray, UT)
  • International Plaza and Bay Street (Tampa, FL)
  • King of Prussia Mall (King of Prussia, PA)
  • Providence Place (Providence, RI)
  • Queens Center (Elmhurst, NY)

These will be in addition to the approximately two dozen Microsoft specialty stores already in operation, a spokesperson said. This is the list of current Microsoft specialty stores that "have been extended into 2013 and beyond," the spokesperson said:

  • Aventura Mall (Aventura, FL)
  • Cherry Creek Shopping Center (Denver, CO)
  • Dadeland Mall (Miami, FL) 
  • Eaton Centre (Toronto, ON)
  • Fashion Mall at Keystone (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Fashion Show Mall (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Glendale Galleria (Glendale, CA)
  • Metropolis at Metrotown (Burnaby, BC)
  • Natick Mall (Natick, MA)
  • Oakridge Centre (Vancouver, BC)
  • Penn Square Mall (Oklahoma City, OK) 
  • Perimeter Mall (Atlanta, GA)
  • Roosevelt Field Mall (Garden City, NY) 
  • Saint Louis Galleria (St. Louis, MO)
  • San Francisco Centre (San Francisco, CA)
  • Shops at North Bridge (Chicago, IL)
  • Southpark Mall (Charlotte, NC) 
  • Stonebriar Centre Mall (Frisco, TX)
  • Time Warner Center: The Shops at Columbus Circle (New York, NY)
  • Washington Square (Portland, OR)
  • West Edmonton Mall (Edmonton, AB)
  • Westfarms Mall (West Hartford, CT)
  • Westfield Garden State Plaza (Paramus, NJ) 
  • Woodland Hills Mall (Tulsa, OK) 
  • Woodlands Mall (Woodlands, TX)

These specialty stores are kiosks and smaller storefronts located inside malls and shopping centers staffed by a handful of employees.

Microsoft officials said in June 2011 that the company would have 44 permanent retail stores in place by the end of its fiscal 2013, which means by the end of June 2013. At that time, Microsoft had yet to announce its holiday pop-up store plans. It seems these specialty stores are not included in 44, as there are approximately 40 full-fledged Microsoft Stores listed as being open or soon-to-open on the Microsoft Store Web site.

Microsoft still has yet to open its first Microsoft Store outside the U.S. and Canada. There've been rumors about Microsoft opening a London store, but so far, nothing has materialized. There also still is not a permanent, full-sized Microsoft Store in Manhattan, NY.

Microsoft has been focusing on selling its own Surface RT and Pro PC/tablet hybrids in its own stores, though it gradually has been expanding distribution to other third-party retailers throughout the world. Microsoft recently expanded its set of third-party Surface RT distributors in China. LiveSide.Net is reporting China could be getting the Surface Pros as early as April 2

One observation regarding these speciality stores: Given how many customers are using brick-and-mortar tech stores as places to kick the tires, rather than to actually purchase new Windows PCs, it's not surprising Microsoft increasingly is going the small/mall route.

Topics: Microsoft, Consumerization, Tablets, PCs, Microsoft Surface


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • King of Prussia

    It's about time! It's only the largest mall in the US. What took so long?!
    • I thought the same thing.

      It's the 10th largest mall in the world, and MS took it's time getting here?
      William Farrel
  • smaller is better!

    The future of much of retail will be showroom stores with little product that can be taken home immediately.
    • That may be true.

      The Apple store at the King of Prussia Mall is very large, but the back thrid is filled with tables.
      I disagree with the "little product that can be taken home immediately" though.

      People still want to walk in and walk out with a product if the price is reasonly close to that which is available online.
      William Farrel
  • Wise move by Microsft

    For a number of reasons.
    1) when a store fails, it's better to only have to lay off one clerk.
    2) when a store fails, they won't have to break a lease.
    3) by putting MS products in a kiosk, they elevate their product to the level of the hair braid kiosk and the sports photo kiosk
    4) by getting people used to a one person staffed kiosk, they are preparing them for the day when Surfaces will be sold out of someone's trunk on the streets. You know someone will break into the landfill dump and grab a couple of Surfaces and try to make a quick buck. Disgraceful.

    All in all I applaud Microsft in not throwing money away on full retail stores.
  • You're showing your fear again, ShazAmerica, but yes a wise move

    1) when a store suceedes, it's better to have room to grow.
    2) when a store suceedes, they have a presence, hence a break on the lease.
    3) by putting MS products in a kiosk, people see their products before Apple's
    4) by getting people used to the Surface kiosk, they are preparing them for the day when Surfaces will be sold out . Oh wait, they already are.

    I know you're upset, since you predicted that MS would be bankrupt in 2011, but at least we enjoy your agony! :)
    William Farrel
    • Touche!

      very well done, Will!

      Of course, it's easy to sell out when you make 3 million of something, sell only 1 million, then say you made 1 million!
  • Microsoft Retail Fragmentation To Go With Its Platform Fragmentation

    Or, when you find yourself in a hole, just keep digging.
  • We never did get that Microsoft Store in London UK

    Still waiting for Microsoft to realise that the World is bigger than North America. I guess they need Nokia to tell them that.

    So we have to rely upon very weak retailers who don't understand the Microsofft Products, and simply will not promote their sales, whislt the Media peddles that all things Apple are the best devices to improve ones lifestyle and social success.

    Until Microsoft ups its game in Europe, with better marketting, Google and Apple will have the consumer market sewn up. Notwithstanding that Nokia put more effort into their WP promotions.
    • International Customers

      Microsoft are very focussed on North America. Apple stores are now a worldwide experience because of their presenc in the consumer market place the problem with MS is that they have only recently come to the consumer market as 'Microsoft'. Mostly they relied on their partners in retail to sell for them.

      However MS partners in stores haven't really seen Microsoft as a brand. Instead the brand has been Dell, HP, Lenovo etc. MS has been a secondary proposition. Apple, on the other hand, have wanted an end-to-end relationship with consumers. Hence 'stores' are fully Apple controlled.

      If MS want to be a consumer brand their stores have to be available far more widely otherwise they will play a background role in electronics retailers.

      Going international is essential to MS success if they want a consumer market presence.

      However let's not forget products like the Zune were never made available outside the US and look what happened. If Zune had been promoted as an International brand then maybe MS would be player in digital music.
      Stephen Townsley
  • Microsoft adds 5 new specialty outlets to it's store roster

    Well at least it's not to far from Philly. Philadelphia needs a good computer part store there was a
    CompUSA store at franklin mills but I think it's gone I tried to buy a blue ray internal optical drive
    from Staples in Philadelphia center city but they do not carry them in their small store only at their large stores. I'll pick up a "Surface Pro with a 128 gig ssd drive from king of Prussia PA.
  • Good computer parts store for Philly

    I realize it's in the 'burbs rather than CC, but Microcenter in St. Davids might be what you want. SEPTA-close, if you're not carrying much.
  • More stores

    Maybe they should buy out Radio Shack. It is really a Phone Shack anymore anyway.