On July 11, 2019, Microsoft will open the doors on its latest retail space, the first flagship Microsoft Store in London. Just like the flagship store in New York, Microsoft is treating the new London store as a place for not only buying Microsoft products and services, but also partaking in learning opportunities, new experiences, and communal activities in the realm of Microsoft, for both consumer and enterprise customers. Microsoft invited me to check out the store in person before launch, and it's really cool.
Located in the heart of Oxford Circus, the new Microsoft Store is in a prime location in central London. The building itself was built in 1912, making it one of the oldest Microsoft Store buildings yet. On the inside, however, you'd never know it. Microsoft has worked hard to maintain some of the original architectural work, including old ceilings and window panes, but the overall aesthetic on the inside is modern and clean, just like other Microsoft Stores across the globe.
The Senior Store Manager, John Carter, said: "This is more than a store, it's a destination, right in the heart of London. Our store associates aim to be trusted advisors, providing unrivaled local tech support for businesses, learning institutions and individuals. We want to give people amazing technology experiences and learning opportunities."
Consumer appeal at Microsoft's London flagship store
The store space is split into three levels, the first of which is home to Microsoft's first-party devices and experiences, aimed primarily at consumers. There are a plethora of Surface products to play with and get a feel for, including the Surface Studio 2, which features predominantly throughout all three levels of the store. There's also a Windows Mixed Reality area, which features AR experiences powered by Samsung Galaxy S10 devices and HoloLens.
Customers will be able to try out the HoloLens in store, allowing many to experience wearable AR for the first time. There's also an Xbox area which features a real McLaren Senna supercar that has been fitted with an internal Xbox One X and hydraulics that sync up with Forza Motorsport 7 on the big screen. Visitors will be able to sit inside and virtually drive the McLaren Senna. I got to try it, and it's super cool with all the hydraulic effects adding to the immersion of the game.
The ground floor also features massive video walls that advertise all kinds of Microsoft products, ranging from Microsoft AI to Surface. The video walls are incredibly eye-catching and will likely draw in audiences walking by on the busy high street. There's also a super magnificent staircase that leads you to the other floors, along with elevators for accessibility.
On the second floor, Microsoft's gaming area, OEM devices, first-party accessories, and the Answer Desk are available. Throughout the second and third floors are numerous Surface Hub 2S devices, which people can play with or get a tour of. There's a "modern workspace" area, which showcases how Microsoft users can work from home using Surface devices.
The gaming lounge is something very special. It's an entire area of the store dedicated to gaming, featuring RGB lighting, dark colors, and gaming setups for professional and casual gamers. Microsoft hopes to host gaming tournaments here, as well as introduce gaming to new audiences through Xbox One S and casual games such as Minecraft. This is where Microsoft will be demoing xCloud on July 11 during the Xbox Showcase.
London Surface Design Lab
Microsoft has a Surface Design Lab, too, which lets you create custom Type Cover patterns for the Surface Go and Surface Pro, right in the store. This is exclusive to the retail space and can't be ordered online. The patterns are laser etched into the Type Cover, and you can watch it as it happens. It's so cool and should draw in any Surface fans looking to spice up their PCs.
There's also a community theatre located on the second floor, a classroom style setting for up to 30 guests to take part in workshops, training, and special events put on by Microsoft or third parties. Microsoft announced today that it is giving a £1 million grant to three partners to empower young people across the UK to access new opportunities through digital skills. These partners include UK Youth, Raspberry Pi Foundation, and The London Community Foundation.
Finally, the third floor is more business orientated, with an experience center designed to allow businesses to train and grow clients and employees using Microsoft technologies.
The store is fantastic, and I'm sure there will be plenty of people popping in just to check out the venue. It's a real flagship Microsoft Store experience, complete with 150 new staffers who have all been trained for this specific storefront. The Store will about at 11 am local time on July 11, 2019, when Microsoft will be holding giveaways, special events, and more to celebrate the launch. Will you be attending?