After months of rumors that Microsoft was going to scale back its already modest retail store presence, Microsoft revealed this week that it's going in the opposite direction: It's going to dramatically increase the number of retail stores it owns and operates in the United States over the next few years. The revelation came during COO Kevin Turner's address Wednesday at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2011 in Los Angeles.
"We're doubling down on the Microsoft Stores," he said. "It's allowed us to put the customer first and learn a whole lot about the consumer experience. And we're going to continue to leverage that."
According to Turner, Microsoft will open 75 new stores across the country over the next two to three years. That's a dramatic increase over the 11 stores—most of which are nestled on the West Coast—that the company opened over the previous two years.
"The biggest single thing we've learned from the stores is it's helping us to transition from thinking about our customers to thinking like our customers," Turner said. "And giving us that direct customer feedback is what we're learning and getting from our stores, providing great choice, value, and service."
Microsoft is also expanding its retail presence outside of the United States, Turner said, though no other details were provided. He implied that international stores would be part of the retail expansion over the next two to three years, however.
"We've got a huge opportunity to get the Microsoft story out there, and we're going to keep driving that, and I encourage you to check out [a Microsoft retail store]," Turner continued. And he's right: Compared with Apple's near-ubiquitous but harshly lit stores, Microsoft's retail locations are warm and inviting, and far friendlier-looking. The problem is that there are too few of them, and just one, in Atlanta, on the US East Coast.
That's going to change. A graphic provided by Turner showed numerous stores around New York City, Boston, and other East Coast locations, as well as many throughout California, Washington state, Texas, Florida, and elsewhere.