Microsoft up to 83 North American retail stores and counting

Microsoft up to 83 North American retail stores and counting

Summary: Microsoft is ending the year with 83 North American stores in total, and is continuing its push to build more brick-and-mortar retail operations in 2014.


Compared to last year, Microsoft hasn't been as splashy with the brick-and-mortar store story around this holiday season.


Yes, Microsoft did forge a partnership with Taubman Centers to offer Windows-centric experiences in 15 malls across the U.S. for the holiday season.  Still, I'd started wondering if Microsoft had pulled back from its retail store push, and was counting on Best Buy and some of its other third-party retail partners to pick up the slack.

But it looks like the company isn't stepping away from building more stores, after all.

In 2013, Microsoft opened a total of 35 specialty (usually kiosk-type) and full stores, according to an "Official Microsoft Blog" December 19 blog post. The grand total of Microsoft North American stores is now 83, the Softies said. Microsoft also confirmed today where its next three stores will be opening in 2014:

  • Square One Shopping Centre, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada 
  • Westfarms, Farmington, Conn. 
  • Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus, N.J.

When Microsoft announced plans to open its own stores in 2009, it patterned itself after Apple, with large, standalone stores, complete with their own tech-support areas (Answer Desks, rather than Genuis Bars). The strategy at that time was to open these stores as close as possible to Apple Stores.

With the launch of Windows 8, just in time for the holiday 2012 selling season, Microsoft opted to open more than 30 holiday pop-up stores. A number of these have morphed into "specialty stores." These tend to be much smaller, often times occupying little more than a kiosk in a mall. They offer a much smaller selection of "curated" Microsoft products, with a heavy focus on Surface and Windows Phone.

At the very start of 2013, Microsoft closed its only full-size Manhattan, NY retail store. I know I sound like a broken record, but there's still no full-size Microsoft Store in Manhattan (just a kiosk in the Time Warner Center), which means there's not a great place for folks to compare the variety of Windows PCs and devices.

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 (and seemingly full-sized) retail stores in place by the end of its fiscal 2013, which meant by the end of June 2013.

There are still no Microsoft brick-and-mortar stores outside North America, in spite of rumored 2013 debuts.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Windows Phone


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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  • Store in Buffalo NY is cool

    I went there to check it out, but honestly anyone with tech background doesn't need to go to these stores. Microsoft and Apple stores seems to be for users who need advice or don't know anything about computers. You can even mail in devices under warranty for free, so a trip to the store is really just for fun.
    Sean Foley
    • I live near King of Prussia Mall

      you would think the 10th largest mall in the world would have a full fledged store (especially since it's 10 minutes from Microsoft's Malvern regional offices) as opposed to a Kiosk, but I guess you take the space you can get, as it seems all the store spaces are occupied
      • Near me they are only in one Best Buys store

        It is almost as if people are afraid to walk into a Microsoft store. I think that the Microsoft sales people should back off. They are very aggressive and are offending a lot of people. They may even get themselves sued for how in your face they are. I hope that their will be ordinances which will clean up malls of Microsoft stores. The last time I was in a Best Buys, the Microsoft guy almost punched me in the face because I mentioned that RT will not run free, open sourse programs. Only programs sold by Microsoft. He tried to kill me.
        Tim Jordan
        • Really

          "The last time I was in a Best Buys, the Microsoft guy almost punched me in the face because I mentioned that RT will not run free, open sourse programs. Only programs sold by Microsoft. He tried to kill me."

          Why do I not believe you?
          • Why do I not believe you?

            You do. That is why you are responding!
            Tim Jordan
          • Scroogled

            What Microsoft is most scared about are the things which they are loudest about. Microsoft new comer are welcome. I do not think there is long term security as a Windows programmer.
            Tim Jordan
          • Windows OS runs via antodotes

            No one but Bill Gates knows how Windows works but people are still buying Microsoft software. I use the open source alternatives but most don't.
            Tim Jordan
          • Near me they are only in one Best Buys store

            Timothy, I think you need a hug.
          • Funny. The only one that appears to be scared

            Is you. :)
          • if you trolled at bestbuy half as much as you do here

            I understand why you might get a negative reaction by a sales person.

            We all know you did not go to a Microsoft store to buy anything. Lets not pretend you represent an average store shopper there or that you are telling a real account of your fable.
          • You hit close to the mark, bitcrazed

            it appears you've forced him into all out defense mode.

            It's really is sad to see people act like he does.
        • I hope he really didn't try to kill you...

          Maybe it was your statement "...RT will not run free, open sourse (SIC) programs. Only programs sold by Microsoft." - which is not true.

          It's true that you must download the RT apps from the Windows Store but that doesn't mean that only Microsoft can sell them (anyone can publish/sell from the Windows Store). In fact, they can be completely free and open source (though you'd have to download the source outside the Windows Store) and not cost anyone a cent (though, whoever published it would have to pay the $19, or less if they get a developer token, to be able to publish to the store).
        • Quit lying, Tim

          Is that the best you can do, make up stories?

          I guess you know you've lost the battle, since you've said things that always run counter to reality.
        • Are you an equal opportunity troll?

          What did they say at the Apple store when you asked them why the iPad didn't run open source software?
          • He did

            they hit him over the head with an iPad, since their employees are too smart and far more cultured to actually engage in a lowly fist fight. :)
  • Is this like their online store?

    If it is like their online store, with mostly Win 8 instead of Win 8.1, I would say forget it. Who wants a brand new machine requiring a huge update. What about the rollback to original condition -- will it roll back to Win 8. About the only thing I see somewhat interesting these days is Chromebook and the new Chromebase to come along in January. Of course the ASUS Transformer T100 made quite the splash and is Win 8.1 but then again Windows is tired, updates don't always go well, and really it is mostly one odd beast of a GUI. Mac, Linux and ChromeOS seem to be improving with age.
    • Go take a look

      All new machines designed and manufactured after October 18 have Windows 8.1. I think your whining about a few left over models that have Windows 8. If upgrading is a concern than you better give up any type of computer altogether.

      BTW - Chomebooks are ok, but they should have been released prior to tablets. They are way late and too old fashion.
      Sean Foley
      • Really, any type of computer?

        The update to Mavericks did not brick my Mac Mini. How are things going with Surface updates -- not so well. Almost every update on my hp laptop with Win 7 now has one or more failed to install updates. I am 100% correct in stating that you want to start with a clean Win 8.1 computer. As an option, other OS computer are available however. Microsoft has pretty darn good competition these days. This comes at a time when they are screwing up things right and left. Don't shoot the messenger -- just the way things are falling. I am very familiar with Windows since 1994 -- never seen Microsoft is such disarray, and having to resort to bad mouthing the competition. Really, just improve the product and show the world why it is great.

        Chromebooks are a really old concept, and one which can now work with improvements / speed of the Internet. You will find that a round wheel is still better than a square one. As for the tablets, they are OK technology wise, but I fail to see how they are better for the average person. The mouse and keyboard, and voice commands should work fine with a Chromebook and I do not have to hold the darn thing, the keyboard is larger with feel to it, and a mouse is precise, and easier for navigation on a browser. Now a smartphone is a different matter -- this I can easily see as a great device. Tablets, for taking orders, for a cash register, and some other purposed niche work efforts, I am sure is better. Tablets and hula hoops -- both are fun, I guess.
        • Bricking?

          My understanding is that was a (rightfully) vocal minority of issues. That story comes out any time any OS has a massive update rollout. Perhaps not bricking, but comparable. I've read how Maverick is corrupting back up drives and doing other things that kills usability.
          • an o/s update corrupting remove storage is frightening

            All I know is a lot of people out off updating to iOS7 and mavericks due to issues with those updates.

            Not that any company is immune to update problems. Microsoft has had a rash of updates pulled recently, which is alarming. Android devices effectively never get updates, so they are always vulnerable.

            Not they any of this has anything to do with a physical store opening or being a major deciding point in how people purchase a device.