John Paczkowski

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Microsoft to Open Dedicated “Windows Stores” in Best Buy

BestBuy_Microsoft_StoreMicrosoft is expanding its retail footprint — deep into Best Buy.

The two companies on Thursday announced a strategic partnership that will see Microsoft creating Windows Stores inside more than 600 Best Buy locations in North America.

These stores-within-a-store will occupy between 1,500 square feet and 2,200 square feet of floor space inside the Best Buy locations in which they’re built, and will showcase a broad range of Microsoft products — software like Windows and Office, and hardware like Surface, Xbox and the Windows Phone portfolio. Essentially, these Windows Stores are replacing the retailer’s existing PC departments. To support them, Best Buy is staffing some 1,200 Microsoft-trained sales associates, and it’s adding an online version of the Windows store-within-a-store to its website. The new stores will begin opening this month.

Microsoft is touting these new Windows Stores as massive “department-level takeovers,” and says they’re key to its retail efforts.

“We’ve heard a lot from customers over the last year,” Microsoft CMO Chris Capossela explained. “They’re buying tablets and other devices to complement their PCs. They’re using technology both at work and at play, and it’s blurring how they think of using tech in their lives. At the same time, they’ve asked us to showcase touch-first devices in a compelling retail environment. We’ve listened, and the story of the Windows Store is that we’ve delivered what customers want: More touch, more hands-on experiences and more opportunities to see Microsoft technologies and how they work together.”

Hardly an original idea; Apple and Samsung both have mini-stores in Best Buy locations. And Best Buy’s big-box-store business isn’t in the greatest shape these days.

But for Microsoft, which has been struggling in its standalone store efforts, this is a savvy move — an easy way to dramatically increase its retail footprint via an established big-box player. Through its partnership with Best Buy, Microsoft gets a significantly larger, more meaningful retail presence without having to roll out hundreds of standalone locations that would have been infinitely more costly.

Promo video below:

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