New Microsoft flagship store in Pitt Street Mall, opening on November 12. It’s looming as the battle between Windows and iPhones, as the giant Microsoft enters the n market in a prime City spot, to take on the equally powerful Apple, located just around the corner.
In its first stand-alone store opened outside of North America, Microsoft has leased an enviable position at the front entrance of Westfield Sydney in Pitt Street Mall.
Microsoft identified as a key market five years ago, but has waited patiently for the best site possible in the prime mall site, which became available earlier this year after Esprit departed.
When the doors swing open on November 12, it will be the group’s 116th store and follows the opening of a mega flagship outlet in Manhattan, New York last week.
It will be one of the final pieces of the puzzle of the redevelopment of the mall, which has in the past been anointed in the top 10 of the most expensive retail strips in the world, in terms of rent. On Saturday, October 31, the Swedish fast fashion giant H&M opens further along the mall, and Vodafone is moving in opposite Microsoft early next year.
Apple established itself on the corner of King and George Streets in June 2008, and Samsung leased the store further along George Street, next to Myers in mid 2012. There are suggestions Sony is looking at the new retail section at 383 George Street.
While the focus is on the Sydney store opening at the moment, the group said it always working to identify the best possible locations for Microsoft stores based on consumer needs and preferences.
One of the key features of the Microsoft store is the interactive nature, with banks of Xbox consoles and a giant screen facing Pitt Street Mall.
Nick Wells, Microsoft store manager, said the priority of Microsoft was customer service and to that end the more than 50 staff hired for the Sydney store speak more than 21 different languages and are from 11 countries.
They have been ensconced in the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth hotel undergoing intense training to man the service counters, known as answer desks, on the ground and upper floors.
“The answer desks are a priority for us and our staff have been trained to offer the best advice across all of our products,” Mr Wells said. “That will include the ‘out of box’ service, where customers can unpack the product in the store and get advice on how to set it up and answer all questions on the spot.”
On the upper level of the 1000 square metre store will be a theatre room that can be used for presentations to small businesses on how to integrate their office equipment.
“We want the store to be as interactive as possible. In the store, we will have more than 178 digital panels throughout the store with 38 different video feeds. All digital screens are 1080p resolution, delivering more than 2 million image pixels through the store,” Mr Wells said.
To be sustainable, the LED lighting, throughout the store, will have four different settings, while a Green Star rating has been achieved in the development from certified timber flooring, VOC paint and sustainable materials, used in all of the joinery.
In celebration of the opening, where British singer Jessie J will be a guest, Microsoft will donate more than $US2 million ($2.8 million) in software and technology grants to several not-for-profit community groups making difference in Sydney, and across .
A number of complimentary workshops and seminars, will also be open to members of the community on level 2 of the store in the weeks that follow the grand opening.
These events will include a digital workshop for girls aged 14-18 to introduce them to the world of possibility with coding and potential career paths, a creative coding academy aimed at secondary school students during school holidays and a seminar aimed at parents to equip them with the knowledge they need when it comes to online security and safety for children.