Microsoft said it would "reimagine" its Microsoft Experience Centers on its Redmond, Wash., headquarters campus and in New York City, London and Sydney, Australia, to serve all customers - including consumers and small business, education and enterprise customers - and allow them to experience Microsoft products and services. These won't sell any products.
The company also vows to beef up the digital version of the Microsoft Store with "virtual customer support from our trusted experts, online tutorial videos, virtual workshops with tips and much more", including personal video sales support calls.
"We are energised about the opportunity to innovate in how we engage with all customers, maximise our talent for greatest impact, and most importantly help our valued customers achieve more", he added.
Microsoft's retail stores mimic the look and feel of Apple's iconic sales fronts, from the glass walls to the wood tables to the very design of the Surface hardware on display.
Microsoft Corp.is exiting bricks-and-mortar retail after opening its first location more than a decade ago, as the tech giant focuses on bolstering its digital storefronts.
"We deliberately built teams with unique backgrounds and skills that could serve customers from anywhere", Porter said.
The company said it would record a pretax charge of about $450 million in the current quarter from the closures, primarily for asset write-offs and impairments.
Microsoft Stores debuted in 2009, serving as a showcase for Surface, Xbox, and other PCs, as well as information centres for Windows itself. The company didn't say whether layoffs will come as a result of the store closures.
"The physical stores generated negligible retail revenue ... and ultimately everything was moving more and more towards the digital channels over the last few years".
Closing physical stores is a "tough, but smart strategic decision" by Microsoft, Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives wrote in a note to clients.
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