Window(s) Shopping: 10 Scenes From Microsoft's Boston Storefront Debut6:41 PM EST Thu. Aug. 23, 2012
Microsoft added Boston to its list of nation-wide retail locations Thursday, unveiling its new storefront in the Prudential Center. A mixed crowd of partners and customers came to witness the grand opening and get a first-hand look at the new store, which features a range of Windows-based devices including laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Here's an inside look at Microsoft's newest stomping grounds and a glimpse into how partners feel about the software giant's new push into the consumer retail market.
Hundreds of Microsoft fans flocked to the new Prudential Center shop Thursday morning, many of which waited in line for as long as two hours just to be one of the firsts to step foot in the store.
According to the Microsoft PR team, the Prudential Center location is the twenty-third storefront Microsoft has in the U.S. A total of 75 Microsoft stores are expected to sprout across the country over the next two to three years.
Over 75 Microsoft partners and resellers were in attendance at the event, including a team from Winxnet, a Microsoft partner and Portland, Maine-based solution provider.
David Barter (far right), vice president of sales and marketing at Winxnet, said he was excited to visit the new Boston storefront to support Microsoft's new push into the retail market. As a partner, Barter said he was excited to have a place where he could bring clients to explore new Windows-based devices first-hand, helping them decide which PC or other Windows products would deliver the biggest benefit to their business.
"It's a place for us to bring customers to look at consumer devices and see how they apply to their environments," Barter said. "Before, we had to go to Best Buy."
John Schnauck (pictured middle), Winxnet's regional vice president and general manager of southern New England, and Sarah Hughes (pictured left), marketing director at Winxnet, joined Barter at the opening.
Chris Sheridan (pictured left), technical solutions architect at Sentri, a fellow Microsoft partner and Westborough, Mass.-based solution provider, said he was excited to see so much consumer interest in Windows-based gadgets, as well as to see Microsoft positioning itself front and center of the consumerization of IT trend.
He also anticipates Windows 8 to be a "revolutionary" product when launched in October.
Sentri is a two-time winner of the Microsoft Small and Midmarket Solutions Partners Group's Northeast Partner of the Year.
Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Chris Caposella (pictured left) cut the official red ribbon at 9:30 a.m., welcoming eager partners and shoppers into the store.
Caposella also announced that Microsoft had officially changed its logo. After 25 years of using the Windows flag, a new and more simplistic Windows square -- still made up of the traditional green, red, yellow and blue Microsoft colors -- has taken its place.
"We have Windows 8 coming, we have Windows Phone 8 coming, ... we just have a new momentum we're excited about," Caposella told the crowd.
Upon the cutting of the ribbon and the lowering of a massive white curtain that had concealed the storefront until Caposella was through his introduction, Microsoft store employees were revealed, jumping and cheering as customers started to filter in.
Inside the store, customers and partners had an opportunity to play around with Windows-based devices, including Samsung's Series 7 Tablet (pictured here), which ran a version of Microsoft's upcoming and much-hyped Windows 8 OS.
Devices from hardware OEMs including Dell, HP and Asus were also on display. Microsoft's homegrown Surface tablet will make its way to the storefront when officially launched in October, alongside Windows 8.
In addition to tablet and notebook PCs, the new Microsoft store features smartphones, including Nokia's Lumia 900 (pictured here), which runs Windows 7.5.
General Manager of Microsoft's Northeast Enterprise and Partner Group Chris Hodges (pictured here) was excited to see such a good turn-out in the Pru Thursday morning, and said Microsoft's new retail stores are a big step forward for both itself and its sprawling ecosystem of hardware and reseller partners.
"This is a great day for Microsoft, its customers and its partners, having a retail location in the center of innovation, Boston, Massachusetts," Hodges told CRN. "[The store] helps blend our own capabilities with many of our hardware partners."
Microsoft's Xbox video-gaming console, along with a number of games designed for the system, are also available at the Boston retail store. Customers are able to play with both Xbox and Kinect firsthand, including this young group of Microsoft fans from the Eagle's Nest Learning Center, a summer and year-round education center in Boston. Pictured with them is Eagle's Nest president and founder George Duncan, who said Microsoft employees gave them a "VIP" tour of the store before it opened, letting the kids explore with their newest software and OEM offerings.