In its latest announcement Microsoft says they closes all Microsoft stores worldwide. This will change the temporary closure of the stores in the context of the coronavirus pandemic into a permanent shutdown.
It is a shutdown without precedent: In recent years, Microsoft has built up stores selling Microsoft products worldwide, shop by shop. They wanted something like the Apple Stores. My German collegue Martin Geuß states here that Microsoft opened retail stores in London, New York, Sydney or Redmond. In this document, however, Microsoft announced a complete change of strategy on June 26, 2020.
Since the Microsoft store locations were closed at the end of March due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the retail team has helped small businesses and educational customers make the transition to digital. Hundreds of thousands of corporate and educational customers have been trained virtually in teleworking and educational software. At the same time, customers were helped with support calls.
The Microsoft support team helped communities by conducting more than 14,000 online workshops and summer camps and more than 3,000 virtual final exams. The increasing shift of customer flows to the purely digital side is now prompting Microsoft to pull the rip cord on its stores.
For users in Germany, Austria or Switzerland, the whole thing is rather not practice-relevant, as far as I know there was no Microsoft Retail Store in this country – nothing can or should be closed. But Martin Geuß interprets the change of strategy as a further step backwards away from the classic consumer, because the contact to people interested in Surface or Xbox is lost.
It’s something like this again: Rely on Microsoft, and you’re left. It’s not the first time that Redmond has practiced ‘hey guys, we are exited to present a great product’ – and a few months later we hear ‘sorry guys, we are shutting down product xyz’.