Microsoft closes its Times Square retail store

Microsoft closes its Times Square retail store

Summary: Ahead of the February 9 Surface Pro launch, Microsoft has closed its Times Square holiday pop-up store.

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The Microsoft Times Square pop-up store has closed up shop, ahead of the February 9 launch of the company's Surface Pro PC/tablet hybrid.

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The Times Square store was the closest thing Microsoft had to any kind of real Manhattan-based brick-and-mortar retail outlet. (The pop-up retail store in Columbus Circle in Manhattan is still open.) The Times Square store was the focal point for the Surface RT launch on October 26.

There had been rumors that Microsoft might end up holding onto the prime real-estate and turn the Times Square store into a permanent Microsoft Store. Unlike most of Microsoft's other pop-ups, the Times Square store wasn't a tiny kiosk, but more of a full-fledged shop that showcased both Microsoft's own Surface line, as well as Windows Phone 8, Xbox and some third-party Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs.

I asked Microsoft when the Times Square store closed (after seeing a tweet from @StevenSandoff claiming this had happened) and didn't get an answer. Instead, I received this statement, attributable to Jonathan Adashek, General Manager, Strategy and Communications with the Sales, Marketing and Services Group (SMSG) at Microsoft:

"Through the Microsoft Times Square holiday store, we had the pleasure to bring customers the unique Microsoft Store experience and the opportunity to engage with technology that impacts the way they live, work and play. The location was intended to support holiday sales of Microsoft Surface and Windows 8, and continues to be an important market for us moving forward. Customers in the New York area can continue to experience the best of Microsoft products and the same excellent choice, value and service at our specialty store located in the Shops at Columbus Circle or any of our nine full line and specialty locations in the tri-state area."

Microsoft also declined to provide any dates as to when other pop-up stores in the U.S. and Canada will close. I did a quick check against the Microsoft Store location site and it seems the other 31 are listed as still open.

Microsoft is planning to sell its Intel-based Surface Pro systems in the U.S. and Canada only. Microsoft officials have said they will offer these machines starting February 9 through all Microsoft retail stores, microsoftstore.com and at Staples and Best Buy in the U.S., as well as from a number of locations in Canada. Microsoft is offering the Surface RT in more countries and via a broader set of retail outlets. (There's a rumor, courtesy of WPCentral, that Costco will soon carry the RT model.)

Microsoft announced on December 26 that it would be opening permanent retail stores in six U.S. cities in early 2013. The six: San Antonio, Texas; Miami, Fla.; Beachwood, Ohio; San Francisco; Salt Lake City; and St. Louis. Several of these were pop-ups turned into permanent stores. This week, Neowin is reporting that Detroit and Honolulu also are poised to get permanent Microsoft Stores.

In late December, Microsoft officials also said they planned to "extend a majority of our specialty store (holiday pop-up) store locations into the New Year." Officials also said to expect the company to transition "some" of the holiday pop-ups into permanent stores "given the great success we've had with them."

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In the summer of 2011, Microsoft officials said that Microsoft planned to open 75 new Microsoft Stores in the subsequent two to three years. Officials updated that tally in the summer of 2012, announcing that Microsoft planned to have 44 permanent retail stores in place by the end of its fiscal 2013, which means by the end of June 2013.

Microsoft officials have said limited distribution for the Surface is one reason the company has been reticent to share Surface sales to date (and seemingly a reason for its accelerated timetable for allowing other retailers to carry the Surface RT). It seems kind of odd to me that Microsoft would close its showcase New York City retail store just ahead of the Surface Pro launch, given the company still has no permanent Manhattan retail outlet and still has not announced plans for one.

 

Topics: Microsoft Surface, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs, Windows, Windows 8

About

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).

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49 comments
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  • might just be a lease issue

    Just after Christmas, I asked a sales rep at the local pop-up how long they would be open. He answered that they had a lease until March 31, and were negotiating to extend it.

    So the Times Square store may simply have been a lease that didn't get renewed, for any number of reasons.
    diane wilson
  • NYers hate Times Square...

    As a New Yorker, I'd like to suggest that Times Square might not be the best place to build their first permanent store in NYC... if they're trying to sell devices to NYers.

    I'm a huge fan of the Windows Phone & Surface, and really wanted to check out a store, but I (like many NYers) absolutely hate going to Times Square--it's loud, crowded, and riddled with slow-moving tourists. I'm not saying that Microsoft shouldn't have a presence there someday, but I'm not sure tourists will do more than window shop (pardon the pun) at a Times Square location. I think Union Square or Columbus Circle or SoHo would be better locations, since people in those areas are already looking to spend money.
    newyorkcitymale
    • Times Square

      This is an excellent point. In other cities, MS opens as close to Apple as they can. So other alternatives -- all of which I would prefer -- would be 5th Ave., Grand Central Station, SoHo (Prince Street area) and/or Chelsea (near Google's NY HQ). Crossing my fingers that one of these might be the new home. Sooner rather than later. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
    • Good point

      As a Londoner, the main shopping areas that you have probably heard of, say Oxford St, Covent Garden, are likewise full of gawpers and not places I would deliberately go. Put one in the City and one in an achingly hip area like Islington or Borough (mainly to annoy the Apple toteing hipsters - but that's me).
      sonnet37
  • Who would buy anything retail in NY?

    12.8% sales tax.
    everss02
    • Re: Who would buy anything retail in NY?

      Perhaps somone visiting from Nova Scotia accustomed to paying 15% :)
      Mythosaurus
    • 12.8%??

      I had no idea it was so high.

      I guess I'm lucky - I'm outside Philly, with 6% (7% in Philly) and with Delaware only 35 minutes away with no sales tax.
      William Farrel
      • Lucky you.

        I enjoyed Pa while I was living in Harrisburg vicinity for 2 and half years. The sales tax was low on many and on vegetables, it was zero and on clothes also it was zero.
        Ram U
        • Still is zero on clothes and food. I'm talking in reference to electronics

          and what not.
          If it's going to be big, go buy in DE!
          William Farrel
      • NH and OR

        No sales tax. Both with nicer scenery than DE.

        Then again, online retailers with no presence in your state won't charge sales tax. So back to the point: who buys PCs or other electronics locally?
        hrlngrv 
      • Amazon

        True, but sadly Amazon recently started charging sales tax here in PA. Major bummer.
        ModernMech
    • Re: Who would buy anything retail in NY?

      I thou‌ght US sales tax was based on where you li‌ve, not where you buy.
      ldo17
      • Sales Tax

        ... is charged at the point of retail delivery. If buying an item across state lines, the vendor selling you the item is responsible for reporting the sales tax to the state in which the product is delivered.

        -Max
        Max Peck
    • No one. The combined NY state and NYC local sales tax 8.875%

      No one. The combined NY state and NYC local sales tax 8.875%

      See http://www8.tax.ny.gov/STLR/stlrHome
      Spatha@...
    • New York sales tax is 8.25%

      I know, I live here.
      Tronn@...
  • San Antonio store

    I'm all for the permanent store in SA,Tx but I hope it's not the current kiosk location inside a mall as old as dirt and has no business being open anymore. There are much better places in the city that will cater to an MS retail store.
    mike2k
  • Microsoft closes its Times Square retail store

    One could only guess at the rent for a space there so it makes sense to close up a shop that was only intended to be open for the holidays. Save some of that $$
    Loverock-Davidson
    • Sign of trouble for MS

      This shows that the store strategy did not work. It does work for Apple but then again, MS is no Apple. MS just cannot crack the consumer market (apart from Xbox)...
      prof123
      • Apple must be in trouble too then

        Apple doesn't have a store in Times Square either so they must be in trouble as well.
        Loverock-Davidson
  • sigh

    "Through the Microsoft Times Square holiday store, we had the pleasure to bring customers the unique Microsoft Store experience and the opportunity to engage with technology that impacts the way they live, work and play. The location was intended to support holiday sales of Microsoft Surface and Windows 8, and continues to be an important market for us moving forward. Customers in the New York area can continue to experience the best of Microsoft products and the same excellent choice, value and service at our specialty store located in the Shops at Columbus Circle or any of our nine full line and specialty locations in the tri-state area."

    Does an actual human being ever just answer a simple question? They must just have these eye-rolling canned statements ready to go for everything. Are they more honest when something is actually going well, rather than making everything sunshine and rainbows?
    drwong