Microsoft's new flagship store in Sydney, the first outside North America, will be all things to all people if the company has its way.
At a special media reveal 24 hours before the doors were due to open at midday on November 12, Microsoft Australia managing director, Pip Marlow, along with general manager, internal retail stores, Travis Walter, general manager worldwide marketing Microsoft Retail and Online Stores, Kelly Soligon, and Sydney store manager, Nick Wells, were obviously excited and upbeat about the future for the two-storey retail outlet.
Of course, it looks bright and bold and has that modern sparkle that tech stores have to come with if they want to pull the consumers in. And while Microsoft is direct selling and becoming a retailer the impact the store will have on the retail channel remains to be seen. In fact, Marlow told ARN several retailers have been enthusiastic guests at previews this week.
She wouldn't be drawn on any possible plans for a second retail outlet in Melbourne, saying that while the company would continually assess its retail plans, the Sydney store was its focus.
Relieved that opening day was finally here, Marlow said it was important the store was place for everybody - from consumers to enterprise clients.
And there's little doubt that Microsoft is focused on providing an intimate 'can do' experience for its customers. That mantra underscored much of the formal part of the reveal.
“Our new flagship store is here to showcase the very best of Microsoft to the local community and we are delighted Sydney has been chosen as its home,” Marlow said. “This is a key part of our commitment to delivering a truly interactive retail experience that gives customers, partners and community organisations the opportunity to see, experience and do great things, all made possible by Microsoft technology.”
Wells emphasised that one of the key attractions will be that all the products on display are untethered. Microsoft wants consumers to be able to pick them up, hold them, see how they feel, get the full hands-on experience.
Of course, Microsoft has an all-star line-up to tempt buyers: Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 lead the way with the new wearable , Microsoft Band 2, which in the spotlight and in the hand is bigger than it looks in photos, quite solid and will obviously make at dent in this highly competitive sector. Other products include Microsoft Lumia, Signature Edition PCs, Xbox One, Office, a variety of accessories, and more. It has all the bases covered - as you would expect.
As part of Microsoft's global partnership with Dell, the store also has an assortment of Dell products on the first and second floor, including the Dell XPS, Inspiron, Vostro and Latitude lines of end-user computing and Alienware gaming products — all built using Microsoft technology.
The 6000 square-foot space located at Westfield Sydney on Pitt Street Mall delivers something the company's users have long waited for the Answer Desk – a one-stop shop for technical questions, troubleshooting and repairs for Microsoft hardware, software and services - regardless of device or where it was purchased. Free services include Windows 10 assessment, extended diagnostics on any device, software repair or support, virus and malware removal, PC tune-ups, and more.
And on the second floor there is a community theatre where the public can get involved with in new technology, and learn and engage with experts. But, equally importantly, it will also be a venue where businesses can attend sessions.
As has been previously reported, with each store opening, Microsoft aims to deliver a positive impact on the communities in which it operates by providing opportunities to empower local youth and businesses through technology, training and experiences.
To celebrate the opening of the Sydney flagship store, Microsoft will donate a total of $4.8 million in software and technology grants to 11 not-for-profit organisations making a difference in Sydney, and across Australia. Recipients include The Smith family, Mission Australia, Service to Youth Council, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, YMCA, YWCA, United Way, Reach, Girls & Boys Brigade, WAYS Youth Services and AIESEC.
And there are video panels everywhere - 178 of them to be precise with 38 different video feeds, each with 1080p resolution. There's plenty to watch and look at.
The Sydney flagship store is massive step for Microsoft Australia making it a major player in the rapidly evolving technology retail scene. Of course, there are big name IT competitors very close by. That's the whole point. Microsoft has entered the game.