In a little under an hour, Microsoft will open its first Australian store in Sydney's Pitt Street Mall. The two-story facility will showcase a range of top-tier Microsoft products including the Surface Pro 4, Surface Book and Band 2 wearable -- all of which are available for the first time today. But arguably the most intriguing feature is an in-store Answer Desk that promises to service and debug any Microsoft product for free, even if it's running on Apple hardware.
Microsoft's first Australian flagship store is a two-story, 6000 square-foot complex located at Westfield Sydney on Pitt Street Mall. It's clear that no expense has been spared, with large interactive spaces, untethered hardware that customers are encouraged to walk around with and more than 170 HD video screens adorning the walls.
Taking its cues from Apple, the store puts an emphasis on customer experience, with premium in-store services trumping cheap prices. (In other words, don't go there to buy a new Windows phone unless you need help setting it up.)
The company is pitching its new store as "a one-stop shop" for technical questions, troubleshooting and repairs for Microsoft hardware, software and services. The Answer Desk staff will happily look at your device regardless of how old it is or where it was purchased. They'll even take on Apple products that are running Windows or Microsoft software.
Free services include Windows 10 assessment for old hardware, extended diagnostics on any device, software repair or support, virus and malware removal and PC tune-ups. This is obviously great news for any tech Luddites out there as well as victims of malware looking for a free fix.
So how does it work? Upon entering the store, customers approach the Answer Desk (pictured above) and present their malfunctioning device. As mentioned, the service has an open door policy on any Microsoft product regardless of age or manufacturer. From a crusty old netbook running Windows XP to an iPad running Office 365; it's all covered.
Depending on how busy operations are, the customer will either be taken upstairs for a troubleshooting session or placed on the reservation list, which will require returning to the store at a later date. The store's 50+ staff have been trained to ask the right questions to help figure out the problem.
As you'd expect, some fixes (such as hardware faults) will require a fee and the range of available options will depend on the make and age of the device. But at the very least, they will pinpoint the problem for you and explain a range of potential fixes, which isn't bad for a free service.
In addition to free software fixes, Microsoft's Sydney store will attempt to provide peace of mind for hardware purchasers. All third-party computers it sells are "signature edition" OEM devices which means zero bloatware and faster boot times. Staff will also install apps onto the device depending on the wants and needs of each customer.
If any Sydneysiders have a dodgy PC or laptop collecting dust in their drawer, take it into the store and see what happens! Let us know how the experience goes in the comments.