Tomorrow, October 26, is the day Microsoft will open its first flagship first brick-and-mortar retail store.The first flagship is the Fifth Avenue New York City store, just a few block away from Apple's Fifth Avenue store. The ribbon-cutting happens at 11:30 a.m. and doors open at noon.
I was among some of the press allowed to tour privately the new Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street store last week. I've included a few of my photos from inside the store in this post.
The five-floor New York City retail outlet, at more than 22,000 square feet, is the largest of Microsoft's 110 retail stores to date. The first three floors are open to the public, while the top two are for staff. There's a glass elevator and stairs connecting the floors.
The New York City flagship store will have on hand Surface Book laptops, Surface Pro 4 tablets, the new Lumia 950 and 950XL Windows Phones and Microsoft Band 2 devices.Band 2 devices, which Microsoft has been showing off in its Stores since last week, is available for order now and deliverable starting October 30. The two new Windows Phones, which Microsoft will sell unlocked in its retail stores, will be available starting some time in November.
Microsoft's New York flagship store will include on the third floor a Dell store within a store. The "Dell Experience" will offer users a chance to try out a variety of Dell products.
The New York store also includes a community theater space for up to 60 people for seminars and training; an Answer Desk for questions and troubleshooting; and an externally facing "culture wall" that will showcase local architecture and landmarks.On its other floors, Microsoft's newest store will feature both first-party, Microsoft-branded devices -- including Surface tablets and laptops, Xboxes, Lumia phones and related accessories and toys -- as well as a number of products from its PC partners. The New York store will be among the few to feature Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality glasses in a glass case (though not, at least for now, in demo-unit form).
There are a few Surface Hub conferencing systems in the new New York store, too, for visitors to test drive.
Microsoft opened its first brick-and-mortar retail store in 2009. It opened a full-size retail store in Manhattan in Times Square in 2012 to coincide with its launch of Windows 8 and Surface RT, only to close it several months later.
Finally, I am going to have a local Microsoft retail store. I can even walk to it.
Why do I care about having a Microsoft store near me? Up until now, buying Windows PCs, Windows devices and related peripherals in New York City has been a much harder experience than it needs to be.