Following the White House’s recommendation to avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10, the software giant said it is temporarily closing all Microsoft Store locations effective immediately.
As the coronavirus continues to spread in the United States and other countries, another major tech company is taking steps to avoid exposure among employees and customers. On Tuesday, Microsoft said that it is temporarily closing down all of its retail stores. The move follows advice from the White House to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people.
SEE: Coronavirus having major effect on tech industry beyond supply chain delays (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Microsoft revealed the news via Twitter, in an email sent to customers, and at its retail store website. Though the move may have been nudged by the White House’s warning, Microsoft will be closing all of its retail locations globally. The company has around 116 retail stores throughout the world, with more than 100 in the US, one in Puerto Rico, seven in Canada, one in Sydney, Australia, and one in London, England.
Microsoft’s retail outlets serve as a way to demo and sell products, offer paid training courses and free workshops, and provide an Answer Desk for technical support. While the stores are closed, customers have a few options. You can shop for products directly at Microsoft’s website. In the US and Puerto Rico, you can call Microsoft Store Sales and Customer Support at 1-877-696-7786. Other countries each have their own specific sales and support numbers. You can also contact Microsoft support online or through the Get Help app built into Windows 10.
Microsoft’s decision follows a similar move from Apple to close all of its retail stores as COVID-19 wreaks havoc around the world. Initially, Apple gave an end date of March 27 for its store closings but updated its website on Tuesday to say that the stores would be closed until further notice. Similarly, Microsoft gave no specific date for when its stores may reopen.
Tech conferences canceled around the world
With the coronavirus affecting most of the world, tech companies have also been forced to cancel or modify conferences and other events scheduled for this time. Many events, such as Microsoft Build and Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, will still run but in an online-only format.
The wave started with the GSMA canceling its Mobile World Congress in Barcelona after companies began dropping out. The Entertainment Software Association canceled its E3 video game event scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles. Facebook called it quits on its Global Marketing Summit set for San Francisco last week and its F8 developer conference slated for May 6-8 in San Jose, CA. Google canceled its I/O conference set for May 12-14 in Mountain View, CA, and moved its Cloud Next conference to an online venue.
Other companies that have canceled, postponed, or changed in-person events include Adobe, Cisco, Dell, Gartner, Kaspersky, Oracle, and SAP.
Below is Microsoft’s email announcing the store closings:
To our customers and community,
As we continue to partner with public health officials, our team and our customers, it is apparent how COVID-19 will touch each of us and our communities.
We’ve been monitoring the situation carefully every day, increasing our safety procedures and protocols and reducing our operations to help limit the spread of the virus, while helping our valuable customers during this challenging time.
With today’s recommendation from the United States government to not socially gather in groups of more than 10 people, we will be temporarily closing Microsoft Store locations – effective immediately.
We are closing all Microsoft Store locations to help protect the health and safety of our customers and our employees. During this unprecedented time, the best way we can serve you is to do everything we can to help minimize the risk of the virus spreading.
In the meantime, we look forward to serving you online at microsoft.com. Our customer support team is happy to help at support.microsoft.com.
Importantly, I want to thank our incredible team for their commitment to serving our customers during this time, and always. Rest assured; we are committed that all of our Microsoft Store employees affected by this outbreak can count on being paid for their regularly scheduled hours.
I’m inspired by seeing our communities and our people come together. Take care of yourself, your family, and your loved ones. We’ll look forward to seeing you soon.
David Porter, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Store