Microsoft is opening its inaugural European store in London just a few meters away from Apple’s flagship central retail store.
Microsoft has taken over three floors and 2,043 square meters of a historic building on the corner of Regent Street and Oxford Street originally designed in 1912, and which since 1996 had housed Benetton Group SpA’s main U.K. clothing outlet.
“As we build our own hardware with Surface and expand our enterprise offerings, we’re finding that a physical location has been really valuable,” Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela said. “We’ve had a team working on this for multiple years now.”
“We’re not doing a physical retail store because somebody else isn’t,” he said. “It’s really just an opportunity for us to serve a set of customers that want to know what’s going on at our company.”
The new store blends white walls with wooden flooring and furniture, adding floor-to-ceiling video panels, laser-etching stations for product personalization, and a variety of conference rooms for training and education sessions.
Customers can try out Microsoft’s Hololens augmented-reality headset, or pick up a new laptop or charging cable. Video-gamers and fans of the company’s Xbox platform get a large dedicated area just to themselves. A room filled with Xbox One consoles are also fitted with webcams and headsets to host in-store e-sports tournaments, and 98-inch screens dot most walls to entice popular streamers to showcase their presence at the site.
Apple stores are now among the biggest drivers of foot traffic to shopping malls. Samsung Electronics has also leased the anchor store in the upscale mall designed by Thomas Heatherwick that opened in London’s Kings Cross district last year to provide a showroom for its devices.