August 31, 2005 1:45 PM PDT

Microsoft shops for N.Y. retail space

Microsoft is looking at retail space once again, apparently with ambitions to create a high-visibility, showcase store.

The software giant is inquiring about retail space in New York's Times Square, a much larger stage than its previous venue in San Francisco, according to real estate brokers.

One place it has been trolling is the 1 Times Square building, said Jeffrey Roseman, a broker with Newmark Retail, the agent for the building.

Roseman, who in the last three months has started to market the property, noted Microsoft approached his company about leasing the space.

"I had not reached out to them," Roseman said. "They were looking for something in the city, and we have spoken to them."

He noted, however, that it is not quite clear how much space the software giant is seeking, what its preferred location in New York might be and how the space will be used.

"My guess is they'll use it as a showroom," Roseman said. "A lot of companies that open a showroom in Times Square use it for branding...It's more like theater than retail."

A move back into retail could help Microsoft showcase its growing number of consumer products.

Its Windows Media Center is aimed at bringing the software maker further into the living room, as is the upcoming release of the Xbox 360.

Microsoft is trying to take on Apple Computer and Sony with its software for music players and portable video players. The company is also eager to edge further into the cell phone market with its Windows Mobile operating system.

Microsoft, however, is not commenting on its real estate pursuits in New York.

"At any given time, Microsoft evaluates and pursues real estate opportunities and needs. Out of respect for all parties, and a desire to not perpetuate rumors, we do not have a comment on this at this time," a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

Microsoft first opened a retail store in 1999 in San Francisco's trendy Metreon entertainment and shopping center. The store showcased Microsoft products, served as a training center and played host to community fund-raising events such as "Tail of the City," said Archana Chattha, vice president of brand marketing and business development for the Metreon.

"Tail of the City" events included an auction of computer mice decorated by celebrities, such as actress Sharon Stone and writer Amy Tan. But after three years, Microsoft closed the store, saying it no longer fit into its core business priorities.

CNET News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this report.

2 comments

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Another original idea!!, a Microsoft store with....Windows?
Well at least they have the good skills of recognizing a winning
formula when they see it, although their execution will surely be
the same lame attempts to give people a close copy, of Apple
Stores. Funny Microsoft doesnt have enough presence in the fact
they are on every 2 page spread in Tech or Consumer mags, on
TV, and in evey store that sells Gateway, Sony, HP, Dell etc....
Something makes me think that Too Much Microsoft, is going to
turn customers off. Soon, even windows followers will feel like
this company is putting its tenacles into everything in their life,
and will resist the intrusion. Of course it will be interesting to
see how close they come to a good store, they have plenty of
examples with the many from Apple.
Posted by educateme (101 comments )
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Did you read the article?
Hey Jonathan, did you actually read the article? You would have noted that MS already had a store in the 90s. This isn't a copy. Besides, many companies have showcase stores--Sony has had a very successful one in NYC for some time now.
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