MICROSOFT IS to open its first bricks and mortar store in the UK, a stone's throw from the flagship Apple Store in Regent Street.
A report in Retail Week (paywalled) says that the ink is drying on a deal that will see Redmond take root in Oxford Circus, which, if you know London even slightly, you'll realise is about 15 seconds from Apple's Magic Fairy Dell on Regent Street.
The building is currently occupied by Benetton, but we could be about to see the beautiful range of multi-ethnic models in overpriced clothes replaced by models that get borked with every upgrade… oh, and are also overpriced.
This won't be the first time Microsoft has ventured outside the US. Although the bulk of its stores are on home soil, the company opened its first international branch in Sydney, Australia last year after repeatedly failing to get suitable premises for a London store.
The big software companies all seem keen to cement their place in the hardware market. Google's recent tie-up with HTC is just one example, and while Apple has had bricks and mortar stores for years, the recent takeover of Whole Foods by Amazon has had the strange side effect of offering the company an outlet for its hardware alongside the Kombucha and Mung Beans. It is also looking at a chain of self-service stores with a pilot store already open.
The question is, will Google go into the retail space too? Maybe it could take over the front window of Hamleys? One slightly sad thing, however, is that if Apple and Microsoft take up residence at that end of Oxford Street, it could affect the footfall to the traditional home of tech shopping in London, Tottenham Court Road.
Microsoft isn't saying anything at this stage, though it has confirmed that it is looking at London premises, but there's no confirmation that this deal won't fall through too. If it does, we expect, nay demand that the staff of both stores do water pistol raids on the other.
We wonder who will be first to have their wedding in the Microsoft Store? µ
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