The Microsoft Store is a chain of retail stores and an online shopping site, owned and operated by Microsoft and dealing in computers, computer software and consumer electronics. The stores aim to "improve the PC and Microsoft retail purchase experience for consumers worldwide and help consumers make more informed decisions about their PC and software purchases."
The Microsoft Store offers Signature PCs and tablets like the Microsoft Surface and from third parties such as HP, Acer, Dell, Lenovo, and Sony without demos or trialware (pre-installed free trials of certain third-party software that expire after a limited time). It also offers Windows (most retail versions), Microsoft Office, mobile devices running the Windows PhoneOS, Xbox 360 game consoles, games and services including on-site Xbox diagnostics. The Answers Desk helps to answer questions related to Windows, Office, and other Microsoft products. The stores also offer class sessions as well as individual appointments.
Microsoft's first experience with a retail store was located in the Metreon in San Francisco. It was owned and operated by Sony Retail Entertainment, and ran from 1999 to 2001.
In 2009, Microsoft built a "Retail Experience Center" in their Redmond, WA headquarters and announced plans to build its own retail stores. On October 22, 2009, the same day as the Windows 7 launch, Microsoft opened a retail store in Scottsdale, Arizona. A week later, another opened in Mission Viejo, California. Five additional stores were opened in 2010. A ninth store opened in Atlanta in May 2011, with two more openings planned in Houston and Los Angeles by the end of June.
The Microsoft Store is similar to the popular Apple Store concept, which has been largely successful. The concept aims to give a greater level of customer satisfaction by not only having sales staff but also employing "Technical Advisers" (similar to Apple's "Geniuses") to assist customers with technical questions and issues. In addition "Specialists" (or trainers) are employed to show customers how to get the most out of their software. Xbox Ones are also available to entertain patrons.
Microsoft Store Online is the online store of Microsoft and is the successor of Windows Marketplace, also owned and operated by the company. The online store sells Microsoft software and hardware, as well as Microsoft Signature PCs and select third-party software. Microsoft Signature PCs are computers from various manufacturers without demos or trialware and pre-loaded with Windows Essentials and Windows Defender. Besides the online storefront, items from the store can be ordered by phone. The website is in 228 markets world-wide, including Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States. The stores in Europe are able to accept orders from, and ship to other European countries as well.
The Microsoft Store offers immediate software download options of some Microsoft software products in most[which?] regions.
On February 12, 2012 it was reported that Microsoft's India online store was hacked, and username and passwords were stolen, by a Chinese group called "Evil Shadow Team". The team has stolen login ID's and passwords of users who had used the website for shopping. It was revealed that passwords were not encrypted and were stored in plain text.
On June 13, 2013, Microsoft announced a partnership with the Best Buy and Future Shop chains to launch a special department known as The Windows Store (unrelated to the software distribution platform) at 600 locations in the United States and Canada by September 2013. The store-within-a-store will showcase Microsoft hardware and software (including the Windows, Office, and Xbox lines), along with Windows-based devices from other OEMs. These sections will replace the computing departments in the affected locations; sections for other manufacturers (such as Apple, Samsung and Google) will remain separate from the Windows Store sections. Best Buy also pledged to add 1,200 Microsoft-trained sales associates to its stores, and to stock more accessories for Microsoft-related products, such as Windows Phone devices.