Hands-On with the All-New Microsoft Retail Experience

By Monica Vila

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of visiting the Microsoft store at the Time Warner Center in New York City. I was there with a team of bloggers who were specifically invited to experience first-hand Microsoft’s new approach to retailing.

From day one, visiting a Microsoft store has always been great way to get hands-on with Xbox, as well as PCs and laptops from third party manufacturers such as HP, Dell, Acer and Lenovo. But they have now been joined by a growing array of mobile devices, including Windows Phones and the ground-breaking family of Surface tablets.

Microsoft stores have always encouraged relaxed browsing, backed up by a courteous and knowledgeable staff that is always on hand when you need a little help. One of the strengths of the app-driven, touchscreen world that we now live in is the opportunity to experiment and get an instant feel for how responsive and user-friendly each device can be. This immersive approach is at the heart of the new Microsoft retail experience.

While I was at the Time Warner Center, I had the opportunity to check out Surface Pro 3, which combines the power and performance of a laptop with the convenience and portability of a classic tablet. One criticism of tablets is that they are not good devices for traditional work tasks but Surface Pro 3 comes with Windows 8.1 Pro, which means you can install all your favorite desktop software, including the full Microsoft Office Suite.

Of course a visit to a Microsoft store wouldn’t be complete without a few minutes in front of an Xbox One. At the Time Warner Center, I was able to experience the uncanny realism of Forza Horizon 2 and Madden NFL 15 – just two of the hundreds of single and multiplayer games that are available for this latest generation console.

Microsoft has about 100 retail experience outlets in North America, including about 70 walk-in stores. These will joined next year by a flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. As well as browsing the latest desktop and mobile devices, customers can schedule a Personal Training session or meet one-on-one with an Answer Desk expert to get solutions to specific problems.

If you haven’t been to a Microsoft store yet, be sure to check it out. Whether you are a die-hard techie or you’re just looking for a little advice, you won’t be disappointed!

I received a fee for participating in a promotional program for Microsoft. All opinions are my own.

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