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Microsoft exiting the retail store business, closing 83 locations

Update:Most Microsoft Stores will be no more after the spread of COVID-19. Microsoft has told Gamasutra that all employees "will have the opportunity" to stay with the company.

Microsoft has announced that it's closing 83 of its Microsoft stores across the world, marking an exit from the retail space from the Windows (and Xbox) developer. 

According to a press release, this permanent closure follows a temporary one that began with the spread of COVID-19. With reopenings coming to a screeching halt across the country, it doesn't appear that Microsoft's sleek, first-party-focused storefronts will be able to make a return. The company will keep four locations open in London, New York, Sydney, and its Redmond Campus. 

For those interested in Microsoft's quarterly financials, "the closing of Microsoft Store physical locations will result in a pre-tax charge of approximately $450M, or $0.05 per share, to be recorded in the current quarter ending June 30, 2020," according to the release. 

Microsoft's release somewhat addresses what will happen to the employees of its stores. It describes a series of "retail teams" that have moved to virtual work and run workshops and sold technology online to firms dealing with the pandemic, and that those teams "will serve consumers, small-business, education, and enterprise customers while building a pipeline of talent with transferable skills."

However in the release, Microsoft doesn't fully commit to retaining 100% of former retail employees, or fully delineate the difference between teams built from retail employees with the corporate Microsoft Store team.

The company states that Microsoft.com, as well as digitial storefronts based on its Xbox and Windows platforms, would take over the workshops, support, and workshops that were key aspects of the physical stores in malls and shopping centers across the world. 

We've reached out to Microsoft for clarification on its plans to retain Microsoft Store employees, and will update this story when they get back to us. 

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson told Gamasutra that "All employees will have the opportunity to stay with Microsoft." 

Photo by Wpcpey.

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