Microsoft today confirmed that it will open several hundred store-within-a-store locations at Best Buys throughout the United States and Canada this summer, dramatically increasing its retail footprint and giving customers a chance to go hands-on with Windows devices and phones.
For the record, I’ve been dribbling out information about these plans for about a month. On May 14, in response to a tweet about Best Buy, I responded that “Best Buy will surprise you in a positive way soon.” Then on June 8, I was a bit more explicit: “Microsoft store-with-a-store is coming to Best Buy this summer.”
Here’s what Microsoft is doing.
Windows Store. First, and most curiously, the store-within-a-store locations will be branded as “Windows Store,” not “Microsoft Store.”
Product focus. Microsoft notes that these locations will highlight Windows PCs, Surface, Office, Windows Phones, and Xbox.
Locations. There will be an incredible 600 store-within-a-store locations at Best Buys in the US and Canada. 500 will be in the United States and 105 will be in Canada, split between Best Buy and Future Shop.
Size and scope. My sources told me months ago that the Microsoft store-within-a-store locations would be bigger and better than the current Samsung store-within-a-store locations you see today in Best Buy. To that end, Microsoft notes that its locations will average 1,900 square feet with a range of 1,500 to 2,200 square feet depending on store layout.
No more ignorant store employees. Rather than rely solely on existing blue shirts, Microsoft store-within-a-store locations will be staffed by dedicated Microsoft specialists as well as “existing dedicated Microsoft specialists working within Best Buy locations today. This partnership will result in an addition 1,200 Microsoft-trained Best Buy blue shirts.
Joint marketing. Microsoft and Best Buy will partner together on “joint marketing campaigns aligned with seasonal moments such as Back-to-School, Holiday and Spring, as well as a great online experience that mirrors the look-and-feel of the stores and features the complete range of Microsoft products.”