Microsoft to permanently close all physical stores amid COVID-19

Microsoft to close physical stores take $450 million hit

But that's all about to change as Microsoft is closing its physical retail stores globally, and focusing instead on online sales.

Microsoft will permanently close almost all of its retail stores in the U.S. and around the world, leaving only four locations open.

It isn't clear how the pandemic affected Microsoft's decision to shutter its physical store strategy.

In a post entitled "Microsoft Store announces new approach to retail", the company explains "Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings".

Most of the company's stores have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company says it will continue to operate its Microsoft Experience Centers in, London, Sydney, and at its Redmond, Washington, campus.

This business move will cost Microsoft $450 million in pre-tax charges, which is par for the course for loss-incurred shutdowns. Microsoft stores are nearly always empty. The company went on to open stores across the US, primarily in malls.

Microsoft, like Apple, has had physical retail stores for years, albeit on a smaller, less successful scale. Apple Inc. has reopened its retail sites only to shut more than 30 of them again as the virus resurges in some locations. Each store showcases Microsoft's Surface and Xbox hardware and some third-party personal computers. New services include 1:1 video chat support, online tutorial videos, and virtual workshops with more digital solutions to come.

Microsoft emphasized that and the Xbox and Windows storefronts reach "up to 1.2 billion monthly customers in 190 markets". There are now more than 100 stores globally.

As the concept of "shopping" in a "store" became anathema to an increasingly covid-averse public, Microsoft's stores were shuttered, and their approximately 2,000 associates were reallocated toward remote customer service.

Seeing a laptop before you purchase it is always nice, particularly when it's a system as expensive as the Microsoft Surface.