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Microsoft reveals retail store plans, include six permanent locations to open soon

Microsoft is looking to further expand its retail operations in 2013, announcing plans to open at least six new retail stores next year. However, actual dates for when this will happen weren’t given.

The move will give consumers around the US more opportunities to pick up, feel and try its Surface RT tablet, along with the pricier Pro version set to launch in the latter half of January.

The computer giant’s first new stores of the year will be located in:

- The Shops at La Cantera, San Antonio, Texas

- Dadeland Mall, Miami, Fla.

- Beachwood Place, Beachwood, Ohio

- Westfield San Francisco Centre, San Francisco

- City Creek Center, Salt Lake City

- St. Louis Galleria, St. Louis

In a post on the company’s official blog, Microsoft’s Jonathan Adashek described 2012 as a “momentous” year for the firm’s retail stores, having opened 51 in total, including its first outside of the US, in four locations in Canada.

However, as pointed out by Geekwire, among the 51 retail stores are a number of Microsoft pop-up stores, originally scheduled to operate from October to December. However, the Redmond-based company has decided to keep many of these open into 2013, turning some of them (including four of the aforementioned six new stores – Beachwood, Miami, St. Louis and San Francisco) into permanent retail locations.

Microsoft currently has 31 permanent stores in the US and Canada, the first of which opened in 2009. Besides Microsoft products, they also sell third-party hardware from the likes of HP, Acer and Dell.

While not yet in the same league as Apple with its global retail empire of almost 400 stores in 14 countries, Microsoft is clearly beginning to wake up to the benefits of giving consumers the chance to try out Windows-based products before they buy, especially with the release of its Surface device.

The launch of the Surface in October this year marked Microsoft’s entry into the highly competitive tablet market, with the most basic model selling for $499.

[Images:  Collins and Raysonho]