Saturday, November 22, 2014


The biggest event in Bethesda today is the Grand Opening of the new Microsoft Store at Westfield Montgomery Mall. If you are one of the first 200 people in line this morning at 10:30, you will get to meet Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals later in the afternoon.
The white coverings will
come off today and open
out into the mall corridors
Microsoft's formal arrival at Westfield Montgomery (the company had a pop-up shop during the holidays a couple of years back) reflect's the tech giant's current strategy of "going to the top malls," Microsoft Store Communications Strategy GM Jonathan Adashek told me when we sat down for a recent interview in Bethesda. The mall has undergone a massive expansion and transformation recently, as Westfield has invested a tremendous sum in bringing the property up to top flight standards.

Adashek said Westfield Montgomery has been an "amazing partner," and that the parent company's long-term reinvestment in the retail center was just one of many factors that led Microsoft to choose it for a store location. He said his company isn't intimidated by the mall's existing Apple Store - packed midday yesterday. "We're not going to be looking over our shoulder, and wait for someone to trip us up," he said. Adashek believes that the form factor of the company's latest products, the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the store, and the fact that all of Microsoft's devices - including desktop PCs - emphasize touchscreen capability are what will distinguish it from Apple. Catching up to Apple will require building individual relationships with today's tech customer, he argued. To that end, Adashek stressed that Microsoft Stores are prioritizing "choice, value and service. That's what people are looking for when they make tech buying decisions."
Microsoft's entry into the
wearable tech category,
The Bethesda Microsoft Store's manager, Tiffany Traynum, was also emphasizing what distinguishes Microsoft products from the competition Friday, as the store's team prepared for today's opening. Microsoft Office products that work across all platforms using the cloud, a People app that helps organize mail and online activities of your friends and family on Windows Phones, and the Cortana voice feature on Microsoft's wearable Band device are all exclusive to Microsoft. You can still use Band with your iPhone or Android, but only a Windows Phone will give you Cortana's ability to send texts via your voice, or give a voice command to set an alarm.

While larger than a Microsoft specialty store, the 1273 SF Bethesda store is smaller than the Tysons location. It doesn't have the home theater space or side video walls of Tysons, but does have a massive video wall along the back. That will primarily showcase Microsoft's popular Xbox One, Traynum said, but can also be put into use for other purposes as needed. Outside the store, a Microsoft Lounge has been set up with Xbox One running on a flatscreen, a spectacle that attracted shoppers to stop and take part in impromptu dance-a-thons with a Microsoft Store employee yesterday.

There'll be a lot more going on today besides the Nationals' ace playing Xbox. A ribbon cutting with Microsoft's VP of Government Affairs, Fred Humphries, will kick things off at 10:30 AM. The first 500 people in line will get Microsoft gift cards randomly worth anywhere from $10-1000. You will also be able to purchase a Toshiba Encore 2 tablet, Xbox 360, or HP Stream 7 Signature Edition tablet for only $99 today. The latter tablet will include a free year of Microsoft Office 365 Personal, that allows you to use Office across multiple devices.
The top Windows Phones

Surface Pro 3
The Microsoft Store will also be making several technology grants to local non-profits. They include downtown Bethesda's own Imagination Stage ($100,000) and Wounded Warriors ($50,000), as well as nearby National 4-H Council, MdBio, YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase, and STEMaction. In total, there will be $625,000 in grants today.

Thirty-three people will be employed at this location. The Microsoft Store is located on the upper level, across from Starbucks outside of Macy's.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I only got in after that store was officially unveiled, at which point it became redonkulous.