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Microsoft’s debut flagship in the heart of Manhattan delivers shoppers an immersive digital experience



More than 25 years ago, Microsoft (Seattle) changed the world when it helped make personal computers ubiquitous in households and offices around the globe. Now, with the opening of its flagship on New York’s Fifth Avenue, it’s changing the norms of digital retail design.

The company began opening stores only within the past decade, predominantly in malls, and offered a limited assortment of product. But this past October, the brand opened its first 22,000-square-foot flagship, featuring a broad range of Microsoft products, like the Surface tablet, Xbox game console and various Windows-branded phones, as well as computing products from key partners like Asus, Dell and Hewlett-Packard – all untethered, so customers can test the tech goods, feel them in-hand and compare them side-by-side.

“Our visual merchandising and layout allows customers [hands-on access], so they can really imagine how they’d handle those devices in their lives,” says Kelly Soligon, general manager worldwide marketing, Microsoft Retail and Online Stores. 

Besides providing an engaging interactive experience with the products and in-store services, like PC tune-up, free virus removal and data transfers – even if you didn’t buy your machine at a Microsoft retailer – the space plays up its history and surroundings to create intrigue.

And although it’s not easy to make tourists and New Yorkers stop and gaze in the middle of one of America’s busiest shopping thoroughfares, the store’s all-glass façade with a third-floor “culture wall” does just that.

The Fifth Avenue-facing video element complements the architecture of the site’s early-1900s building, and “plays beautiful digital art that is endemic to the neighborhood,” says Soligon. “We’re a few blocks away from MoMA, and we want to show how technology and art meld together.”


Inside, a second immersive video experience stretches from the first to the second floor and allows for additional storytelling.

 The location also features two community theaters  that offer free workshops and training sessions, and act as a space for community partners to use, like for workshops teaching coding techniques. More than 70 hours of programming happens in the theaters weekly.

This locale is ideal, Soligon says, for its opportunity to serve both the local New York community as well as international visitors and tourists. With more than 160 employees, collectively speaking 19 different languages, she notes Microsoft is well-equipped to serve customers visiting from both near and far.

“Physical locations are where people truly connect with products,” Soligon says. “So that ability to get hands-on with products, to talk with trusted advisors and be able to get needed advice can come to life face-to-face.” 


Retailer and Design
Microsoft Corp., Seattle


Gensler, San Francisco

Vitra, Weil am Rhein, Germany

JT Magen, New York

Richard Cadan, Fairfield, Conn.



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