Microsoft opens Retail Experience Centre

Surfaces just one aspect of Microsoft's brand-heavy Retail Experience Center
Surfaces just one aspect of Microsoft's brand-heavy Retail Experience Center

Who said retail was dead?

A new 20,000-square foot high-tech shop has just opened in Redmond, Washington, complete with interactive kiosks, digital signage and the latest behind-the-scenes technology.

Unfortunately, it's a not a real retailer bucking the economic downturn but Microsoft's new Retail Experience Centre, a showcase for dozens of technologies that the software company hopes will revolutionise retail.

From the loading dock to the checkout, the Retail Experience Centre features the latest methods of separating you from your cash.

Microsoft wants your wallet

These include applications delivering targeted, real-time information to a shopping trolley or mobile phone to influence your choices, Surface PCs, multi-touch Windows 7 devices and even Microsoft RFID chips (did anyone say Redmond Borg?)

Retailers can apparently also cut costs, lower expenses and increase operational efficiencies with technologies for store systems integration, performance management, proactive remote monitoring of a store's environment, virtualisation and enhanced data security capabilities.

The Retail Experience Centre is also a research facility to better understand and address how consumers are experiencing the Windows brand as they select and purchase PCs, with not-at-all Apple Store-like 'Microsoft Gurus' on hand to assist shoppers.

Could this be the first step to seeing dedicated Microsoft shops in the High Street? TechRadar will try to get in for a quick look and report back...

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.