Microsoft will permanently close nearly all of its retail stores in the US and around the world, leaving only four locations open.
Stores in New York City (Fifth Ave), London (Oxford Circus), Sydney (Westfield Sydney) and Redmond (Microsoft campus) will remain open. All other stores, consisting of more than 100 global locations, will cease operations.
The company announced its plans to shutter retail stores in a blog post on Friday. David Porter, the corporate vice president at Microsoft, says retail team members will "continue to serve customers working from Microsoft corporate facilities or remotely and we will continue to develop our diverse team in support of the overall company mission and objectives."
It's not clear if Microsoft intends on laying off employees. Microsoft Stores have remained closed since they locked the doors during the COVID-19 pandemic months ago. Microsoft told The Verge that re-opening stores would need a "measured and cautious" approach. Instead, those stores will be closing for good, save for the four Microsoft has spared.
Microsoft Stores began opening in 2009 as a way to highlight hardware running on Windows 10 and Microsoft's Xbox console. Typically seen nearby Apple retail spots, Microsoft's intentions of replicating the success of its rival were poorly disguised. The software giant was criticized for ripping off Apple stores, and while it successfully created a similar ambiance, it couldn't drive the same foot traffic to its locations.
Microsoft's stores offered a wide selection of Windows 10 hardware from third-party vendors, including many products you can't find at your local Best Buy. You will now need to rely on Microsoft digital storefront, which the company promises to improve.
"We will make our digital storefronts the best place to learn, buy, and receive support across software and hardware," Porter wrote. "Today we offer tools including virtual customer support from our trusted experts, online tutorial videos, virtual workshops with tips and much more. We will continue to invest in innovative digital solutions, including new services such as 1:1 video sales support."