Microsoft Retail arrives in London

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Today sees the opening of Europe’s first Microsoft flagship store. It’s located in central London at Oxford Circus, has three floors (two for regular shoppers and visitors and a top level for business customers, accessed by appointment) and is a little over 21,000 sq ft, making it a very large store for these parts.

What is really interesting about this store is the manner in which it approaches its potential shoppers. Rather than showing them endless rows of laptops, tablets and accessories, all of which have a habit of looking more or less the same, this store offers a range of experiences.

This means anything from trying out test-driving a McLaren F1 car (yes, really), to heading into a semi-discrete gaming lounge where rows of games consoles and screens await the enthusiast. The store is also about ‘community’ and education, with a classroom on the first floor where coding classes and seminars, among other things, will take place.

Most of all, however, with its spiral wooden staircase, walls which are screens with moving content and plain wooden tables with black tops, this is an environment that will appeal to a broad swathe of shoppers. For the moment, it will be Microsoft’s only European outpost, but it may actually present a challenge to the Apple flagship, just along the road on Regent Street.