Microsoft's retail outlets, creatively known as Microsoft Store, has been its answer to the wildly successful Apple Stores that helped push a lot of Apple product into the hands of consumers, especially Macs.
Up to now, the more than 100 Microsoft Stores have been focused on the consumer market. However, Microsoft announced an expansion of the stores to include what it calls SMB Zones, providing small and mid-sized businesses with a chance to check out business-oriented products and technology and also get some consultations.
In addition, Microsoft is allowing its partners to use their own products and services along with Microsoft products.
Along with the launch of SMB Zones, Microsoft Stores have rolled out a new leasing program called "Accelerate Your Business," designed to simplify the decision-making process in regard to device ownership lifecycle, warranty options, monthly repayments and the ability to trade in devices at the end of the lease.
The SMB Zones will come with a number of other resources as well:
- Business Sales Specialists, who will help SMBs determine their technology needs.
- Answer Desk, offering device support either over the phone or in-store.
- Surface Membership, a subscription-based program for Surface devices offering in-store, online and phone support, one-on-one personal training, financing, member discounts and more. Personal Training with Windows devices, Office 365, OneNote, Skype, OneDrive and more.
- In-Store Events, such as workshops, trainings and seminars on various topics.
Hosting Events for partners and businesses to host training or networking events, free of cost.