Over on the official Windows Blog, Microsoft has revealed plans to bring dedicated Windows Stores to 500 Best Buy locations within the US. These 1,500 to 2,200 square foot sections will focus exclusively on Microsoft products, and will have their own distinct staff. As a former Best Buy employee I’ll admit I may not be the most unbiased observer, but this definitely seems like Microsoft getting the better end of the deal. One of the banes of Best Buy’s existence has been the growing practice of “showrooming,” wherein customers come in to examine and handle merchandise and then end up purchasing it at another online retailer for less money. The brilliance of a setup like the Apple Store is that to a degree, showrooming becomes a non-issue. Whether they buy it in-store or online, the customer is ultimately still walking away with an Apple product.
Microsoft had previously launched its own line of Microsoft Stores, but with only 68 locations, they aren’t quite as ubiquitous as their Apple counterparts. Being able to get eyes and hands on products like the Surface is a must for Microsoft, and this seems like a smart move to offer a more focused selling experience without the need for their own retail space. Since Best Buy is currently the world’s largest PC retailer (sort of by default, but hey), it seems like Microsoft will be ideally positioned to hook Ma and Pa consumer shopping for little Billy’s graduation present. Also, considering Best Buy’s policy of making one employee the PC/Fridge/Car Audio/Musical Instruments guy, having a dedicated Microsoft team should hopefully make for a less migraine-inducing shopping experience. For those who still venture out into meatspace for their shopping needs, roll-out will begin late June and run through September.
Follow me on Twitter