So the moment is finally here – Microsoft have opened their first ever flagship store outside North America, in Sydney CBD. Being that I now live in Sydney, I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to check it out on opening day. Below are some photos and some of my thoughts.
The view from outside, on Pitt Street Mall – highly reminiscent of an Apple Store. I guess imitation is the greatest form of flattery, as the saying goes.
A table featuring a row of Surface 3 tablets – again, laid out exactly like the Apple Store, albeit with different coloured tables.
The new Surface Book. Actually using the device, the first thing that really impressed me was the durability – I had read a lot of negative commentary from the likes of The Verge/Engadget criticising the hinge, claiming the top of the device wobbles when in use – in my limited time with the product I found that claim to be exaggerated. Indeed there is a slight wobble, but it is minor and not significantly greater than most laptops. The keyboard and trackpad were great to use, and the muscle-wire dock is really impressive.
The new Surface Pro 4. Very similar to the Pro 3, although the keyboard is much improved, far more like a real laptop keyboard.
I also got the chance to try out the new Microsoft Band 2 – very exciting to get to use one of these, as prior to the Microsoft Store you could not get these at all in Australia, nor the original Band. Using the device hands on I was impressed with the curved shape, my concern was that the device would be overly bulky however I found it to be relatively light and much like a normal wristband one might wear, albeit more stiff due to the complicated electronic components inside.
Leaving the store and walking down Pitt Street at the moment you can see Microsoft has lined the entire arcade with these lights resembling the four colours of the Microsoft logo. The whole street was full of Microsoft staff roaming the place wearing T-Shirts promoting the opening of the store. They really went all out with the launch and it seems to have paid off, as the store was packed out during my time there. Curiously it appeared every single one of the staff there was American, there appeared to be no Australians working there at all. I’m sure that will change in the future as Microsoft continues its retail expansion across the country.
It is really interesting to watch Microsoft as they grow their global retail footprint, and as an Australian it is great to see attention being given to this region before the others, as it is usually the other way around. I am assuming Australia will be the testing ground for any future rollouts in to other areas such as the UK and New Zealand. I will be keeping a close eye on any developments in this area.