Microsoft appears to have abandoned any lingering ambitions to open high-street stores in this country, after its UK-registered retail entity was dissolved.
The software giant incorporated Microsoft Retail Store United Kingdom Limited two years ago, as rumours abounded that it would begin opening UK shops in the first half of 2013. No such outlets have materialised, and any suggestion that the vendor still has designs on the UK high street can now surely be dispelled, following the dissolution of the company last month. Microsoft had not responded to requests for comment at time of publication.
In March last year the UK Registrar of Companies issued Microsoft Retail Store United Kingdom Limited with a notice that the company would be struck off unless the directors provided cause not to within three months. The entity has since hung on to its existence for almost a year and a half, but has now been quietly dissolved for good.
Microsoft began its current retail push with the opening of a store in Arizona in 2009 and since then has amassed a fleet of about 100 shops in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Thirteen more are due to open across North America in the coming weeks and months.
At its 2011 Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles – at which point in time it had a total of about 11 stores in the US – Microsoft unveiled plans to open a further 75 locations over the next two to three years. Its plans predominantly focused on the big conurbations on the east and west coasts of the US, but the vendor also asserted that it would be opening outlets in locations outside its homeland too. However, more than three years on, no international openings have yet been announced.
But at least Microsoft's foray into the retail market over the past five years has already proved much more successful than its previous attempt, in which it opened a location in San Francisco in 1999, only to shut it down about two years later.
About the same as Microsoft was closing its Californian store, Apple opened its first two direct outlets in the US. The Mac maker has since built an empire of about 430 stores in 16 countries, including 37 locations in the UK.
But while its rival's mobile products have enjoyed phenomenal success, Microsoft's Surface tablet (pictured right) and Windows Phone operating system have failed to capture consumers' imagination.
Recent data from Strategy Analytics reveal that, in 2014's second quarter, just five per cent of tablets sold worldwide ran on Windows – the majority of which will have been devices from other OEMs. Android reportedly holds 70 per cent of the market, way ahead of Apple on 25 per cent.
In Q1 2014 handsets running on Windows Phone accounted for just 2.7 per cent of all global smartphone shipments, according to IDC statistics. Android holds an 81.1 per cent market share, with iOS taking 15.2 per cent.
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