The Microsoft Store Is Selling Zunes or Whatever in Heaven Now

RIP The Microsoft Store [2009-2020]
RIP The Microsoft Store [2009-2020]
Photo: George Pimentel / Getty

Dearly beloved, we are gathered to mourn the loss, and celebrate the memory, of all 82 of Microsoft’s retail locations. They became incapacitated as a result of complications due to the current coronavirus pandemic in mid-March; their parent company, Microsoft, opted to take the ailing stores off life support today.

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Born in Scottsdale, Arizona, on October 22, 2009, amid the heady jubilance of an Ashley Tisdale concert (apparently), the Microsoft Store spent its life yearning to achieve the slickness and ubiquity of its elder cousin, the Apple Store. Personally I can’t vouch for how one stacked up against the other, as I’ve never set foot inside a Microsoft store, but I’m told they had technical support staff, devices to try out, and game consoles to play. Mostly, I remember people protesting outside of its flagship 5th Avenue location in New York.

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. A company spokesperson told CNBC that “all Microsoft employees will have the opportunity to stay,” though it’s unclear in what capacity.

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As if to salt the open wound of the stores’ absence, Microsoft’s stock price barely moved after news of closures was publicized. Even if it was for purely fiscal reasons, optics-wise Microsoft is coming out ahead of Apple, which has now closed, reopened, and then re-closed dozens of its stores in response to the pandemic.

The Microsoft Store is survived by its digital counterpart and the company’s 1-800 technical support hotline. We encourage you to leave your recollections of the departed below.

Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// bgmwrites@gmail.com Keybase: keybase.io/bryangm Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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DISCUSSION

I loved my Zune. The software was also fantastic and lightyears ahead of WinAmp or iTunes. Two words: dynamic motherfucking playlists. The UI ended up being a predecessor to the Metro interface so I had no problems adjusting to Windows 8 when it launched.

I miss mp3s. I still have them on one of these hard drives but everything is streaming now and I kinda hate it because I can’t listen to Pandora or Spotify when I’m in a goddamned airplane.