Microsoft has unveiled plans for "store-within-a-store" sections in Best Buy stores, becoming the latest major consumer electronics maker to acknowledge advantages of the brick-and-mortar format. The sections will begin opening this month and offer Windows-based PCs, tablets, Xbox, and accessories, as well as trained staff to explain Windows 8 to customers. All of the Microsoft mini-stores are expected to be set up in about 600 Best Buy locations in the US and Canada by early September, around the same time analysts expect a free update to Windows 8 to be released.
The alliance with Microsoft comes as Best Buy continues to battle the "showrooming" effect, the term for shoppers who browse in stores buy then buy items cheaper online. This has led to fears that the big-box store format is growing obsolete, but major electronics retailers are finding an advantage in having a destination where sales staff can explain its products to shoppers. Best Buy has similar store-within-stores for Apple, Samsung, and Magnolia products, but the Microsoft mini-stores will be bigger than the others. (Read more Microsoft stories.)