Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer opens the company's Bellevue Square store in November. (Microsoft Photo)

Microsoft today confirmed plans for a new retail store in Century City, Calif. It will be the company’s fourth storefront in California, and its 11th location nationwide. (Eight are currently open, and two others have previously been confirmed by the company as planned, in Houston and Atlanta.) Other rumored (but unconfirmed) locations include Orlando, Fla., and New York City. And while the company has been keeping mum, city permits have revealed its plans for a store at Seattle’s University Village, across a courtyard from the Apple Store there.

In other words, on the surface, Microsoft’s national expansion of its fledgling retail operation seems to be going strong.

However, at this pace, it would take years for the Redmond company to match Apple’s chain of more than 300 stores worldwide. One of the reasons each Microsoft Store confirmation gets attention is that there still aren’t that many of them.

Business Insider reported recently that the company’s executives are divided over the merits of ramping up the company’s retail presence — debating whether the investment is worth the marketing and exposure that the stores create. The site’s Matt Rosoff reported that CEO Steve Ballmer COO Kevin Turner would like to match or exceed Apple’s worldwide retail footprint, but others inside the company aren’t convinced.

For those of you keeping score at home, here’s the official list of open and planned stores …

  • Scottsdale Fashion Square (Scottsdale, AZ)
  • The Shops at Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, CA)
  • Park Meadows Retail Resort (Lone Tree, CO)
  • Fashion Valley (San Diego, CA)
  • Oakbrook Center (Oak Brook, IL)
  • Mall of America (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Bellevue Square (Bellevue, WA)
  • South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa, CA)

Confirmed by the company as planned

  • Lenox Square (Atlanta, GA) – May 23
  • Houston Galleria (Houston, TX) – Date to be announced
  • Century City (Los Angeles, CA)- Date to be announced

Microsoft Stores have gotten a bum rap for being mere knock-offs of Apple Stores. Sure, there are similarities, and clearly Microsoft took cues from retail strategies implemented and even pioneered by Apple. But based on my own visits to the Microsoft Store at Bellevue Square, the Redmond company also brings a distinctive personality to its locations.

Does that mean the company should open hundreds of them? That’s a different question entirely, and I’m not sure of the answer. Feel free to weigh in with your own opinion below.

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  • Pablo Foti

    I don’t know if you have been to one but we have one here in Minnesota at the Mall Of America and it is just amazing. It is located right next to Lego Land and I get to hang out there at least every couple of weeks when my son wants to buy some more legos. The Microsoft store is always full of people even when the rest of the mall is not very busy. The store is just such a cool place to hang out that it is like a magnet for people. Personally I would like to see a lot more of them.

    • Anonymous

      “The store is just such a cool place to hang out that it is like a magnet for people”


      • doug


  • Isaac Alexander

    Nokia sold off their stores a couple years ago so they can’t just convert those outlets.

  • Dhdhde

    There aren’t many stores because, unlike Apple, MS doesn’t make money on them. Can a company that hasn’t grown shareholder value in a decade, and whose flagship division is already showing the adverse effects of the post PC era, really afford more expensive distractions?

  • MSFTto$10

    Why not? It’s only a couple million per store, and what’s that to a company that lost $726,000,000 on search alone in just the last three months? The stock is diving either way. Ballmer’s got Bill to protect his job regardless. So c’mon, party like it’s 1995.

    • Drenrav

      Hopefully you are being sarcastic.

      Apple makes more per square foot than any retailer in the world. It’s okay for Microsoft to open a store just because they can?

      • Joshua Gooden

        Clearly your sarcosmotron is on the fritz…

  • Shelly Palmer

    Microsoft’s store at Bellevue Square is exponentially funner and cooler than Apple’s. If you want to hang with smelly, overweight guys that think they know everything tech as you know nothing, they are wall to wall in the Mac store. For grins, I went into the Mac store over the holiday and was told I should buy a Mac because they don’t have viruses like Windows. Wow, I laughed and told the guy that was so last century….didn’t he have a more 21st century reason to buy a Mac. He was perplexed by my intransigence in not bowing down to the Mac deities on display. He replied that if I paid $300 more I could get free service ! Do they train these Mac heads this ?
    Ballmer needs to ramp up in a big way what he has done at Bell Square. It is awesome and anyone with any sense can see the potential of this retail genius in consumerism blending of XBox, Windows, and Microsoft’s uubergeek Kinect.

    • Nigel Tufnel

      The irony here, Shelly, is that you come off as even more of a douche than the Mac users you attempt to portray as such.

  • Anonymous

    I really like the Microsoft store at Bellevue square. (and I’m not Microsoft kiddie). Especially cool was the $10,000 mega machine they had there with a transparent case and all kinds of cooling and even an xbox built in. It was fun to walk around.

    I agree with other posters that the Apple stores just feel too cool, like I’m not him enough to be there. Microsoft’s store was just more fun.

  • Frank

    Some of these comments favorable to MS seem like they are written by the MS PR team…here’s the big problem with this concept. Apple sells great products to consumers who shop retail while MS mostly sells functional solutions to IT managers at enterprises with a few exceptions. Microsoft’s retail expansion is another big mistake by a management team that has stuck around about a decade too long

  • Guest

    That photo is so hilariously Microsoft.

  • Joshua Gooden

    Steve Ballmer has got to go. He’s needed to go for about a decade now.

    Though it was just a fictionalized account, check out Pirates of the Silicon Valley to see what I mean. He is just plain tone deaf. Deep down, he thinks of every Microsoft user as a weenie, and that affects his decision making every day. 

    He is a pox upon Microsoft. Bill let it go because they are poker buddies from way back, but Steve is slowly destroying the company from within.

    It makes me sad.

  • Shopping27

    hOW ABOUT ONE IN nORTHBROOK iLLINOIS, sKOKIE iLLINOIS???? Will they offer classes like Apple does?

  • Shopping27

    hOW ABOUT ONE IN nORTHBROOK iLLINOIS, sKOKIE iLLINOIS???? Will they offer classes like Apple does?

  • Shopping27

    hOW ABOUT ONE IN nORTHBROOK iLLINOIS, sKOKIE iLLINOIS???? Will they offer classes like Apple does?

  • Shopping27

    hOW ABOUT ONE IN nORTHBROOK iLLINOIS, sKOKIE iLLINOIS???? Will they offer classes like Apple does?

  • Guest

    I wanted to like it – really, I did. It looked OK from the outside. But it was a joke with stale, buggy technology. FYI, I’ve been a programmer for 20 years and have always had unix/linux/windows/macs – I’m agnostic. Well, I used to be, but really Microsoft is beyond bad now – its such a lame company…

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