REDMOND, Wash. – Nov. 14, 2008 – This week consumers are getting a new, easy way to access Microsoft products: The Microsoft Store (www.MicrosoftStore.com).
The Microsoft Store offers direct access to Microsoft’s entire catalog of products; the store launched in the US on Nov. 13, 2008.
Microsoft Store offers Microsoft’s entire consumer catalog, including desktop software, the Xbox console and its related game titles, the Microsoft Zune, and all of the company’s hardware, including mice, keyboards, web cameras, and joysticks. Along with a fast, secure buying experience, customers will enjoy an easy-to-use interface and useful product comparisons.
“Microsoft Store gives customers a trusted environment to discover, learn, try, download and buy from the largest selection of Microsoft software, devices and hardware,” says Larry Engel, general manager, Microsoft Store & Marketplaces. “For the first time, customers will have one place to find and purchase everything from Microsoft, rather than seeing just a list of products.”
According to Engel, one of the most compelling features of the new store is that it will offer many products, including Windows and Office, as a digital download. “We think customers will enjoy the immediate satisfaction of purchasing, downloading and installing these products within minutes,” he says.
Although the Microsoft Store will price all its products at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), customers still see benefits, says Engel.
“Microsoft Store is really about making that direct connection with the customers, and then making it a great experience from start to finish,” he says. “The entire focus of our design is to make it easy for customers to navigate and find the products they want, and understand which products will work best for them.”
Customers will find tabs to broad product categories, and simple links for version comparisons, pricing and ordering. Straightforward “connect the dots” diagrams allow for fast and clear comparisons between software versions, so customers can get the right package for the features they need.
The Microsoft Store has simple product comparison charts which help customers quickly review product versions and features.
In addition to downloads, Microsoft Store will also offer full packaged product. In general, PC software will be available either as packaged product or for immediate download, while games and of course hardware will be shipped.
Microsoft Store has already launched in Germany, UK and Korea. Over the next year, the store will also launch in several countries worldwide, in a number of languages. New stores are in the works for Japan, France, Spain and the Netherlands.
And, says Engel, customers using the site will also have access to Microsoft’s traditional customer and technical support organizations.
“We have a toll-free number as well as e-mail support for customers, just as we would for those buying retail products from any Internet retailer,” Engel says. “For more specialized or technical questions about usage of a product, customers will be quickly transferred to support agents that can help.”
With the Microsoft Store offering the same products and support as the traditional retail channel, existing retailers may be anxious about Microsoft’s entrance into the direct-to-consumer market. According to Engel, however, retailers will be able to compete with the Microsoft Store through special pricing, discounts, and the ability to draw from a range of products beyond what Microsoft offers.
Engel says the store’s appeal is mainly targeted toward customers who want the ease and confidence of buying products directly from the manufacturer. Other major technology brands, such as Apple, Symantec and Electronic Arts (EA), have demonstrated that model works for some customers, while at the same time leaving ample opportunity for the traditional retail sales channel.
“We’re emphasizing that we have all the products here, and for many of them we offer the quickest way to get it, which is through digital download,” he says. “A big part of our mission is ‘one voice and one experience,’ and we want to engage with consumers through our own unique voice and experience. This is just one more way for customers to get what they need, the way they want to get it.”