According to the New York Daily News, Microsoft is negotiating to take control of the former Fendi store on Fifth Avenue, which it would turn into its first Manhattan brick-and-mortar store.
The Fendi store, located at 677 Fifth Avenue (near 53rd Street) is five blocks away from Apple's Fifth Avenue Store (near 58th Street).
Microsoft isn't commenting on the Daily News report, beyond this statement from a spokesperson:
“We are always working to identify the best possible locations for our Microsoft retail stores to deliver the choice, value and service our customers are looking for, but do not have any additional information to share at this time.”
Microsoft currently operates a kiosk, or "specialty store," in Columbus Circle in Manhattan, but still has no full-size store here. The company does have a few full-size stores in New York, including a recently opened store in Long Island. Microsoft opened a full-size retail store in Times Square when it launched its original Surface tablets in 2012, but ended up closing it several months later.
(I had wondered whether Microsoft might opt to open a full-size retail store on the street level of its new New York City offices in Times Square near Port Authority, but at least so far, that doesn't seem to be the plan.)
There's no word in the Daily News report as to when Microsoft is aiming to open a store in the Fifth Avenue location.
Microsoft currently has more than 100 retail stores listed on its Microsoft Store location page, with specialty and full-size stores located in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Microsoft still hasn't opened any retail stores beyond these locations. CRN is reporting Microsoft may be abandoning plans to open retail stores in the U.K. Meanwhile, Apple has hundreds of stores located throughout the world, with four of of its flagship stores located in Manhattan.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told Wall Street and press during the company's Q4 fiscal 2014 earnings call that he considered retail stores to be a "supporting," not a core, business for the company. Lately, much of the company's retail focus has been on working with Best Buy and Staples to create dedicated Microsoft store-within-a-store outlets.
Microsoft officially announced its retail-store launch plan back in February 2009. At that time, the company appointed David Porter (a former Dreamworks Animation and Wal-mart exec) as Corporate Vice President of Retail Stores. Microsoft’s strategy has been to open its stores as close to Apple stores as possible as it expands its retail presence. Full-size Microsoft Stores sell Windows PCs, Windows Phones, Xboxes, Microsoft and third-party software, games, peripherals and more.