Microsoft's answer to Genius Bar coming to Sydney

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Microsoft's answer to Genius Bar coming to Sydney
Staff at the Microsoft Store in New York City

Microsoft will offer "full service and support" for free at its new flagship store in the Sydney CBD, regardless of where the device or software was originally purchased.

The vendor's answer to Apple Stores' Genius Bar will be named the Answer Desk at the Microsoft Store, due to open "late spring" in Pitt Street Mall.

"The Answer Desk is our one-stop shop for technical questions," said a Microsoft spokesperson, adding that any product in "the Windows ecosystem" would be supported without regard to the location of purchase.

"In fact, they’ll attempt to fix a PC free of charge for issues including troubleshooting, tune-ups and repairs, regardless of what device you have or where you bought it," said the spokesperson.

Philip Patelis, managing director of Sydney Microsoft partner XCentral, told CRN the free support would not lure away SMB clients from the channel.

"We don’t think this will hurt us at all. If our model or pricing isn’t right for a particular customer, we now have the avenue to refer them to a reliable provider, such as Microsoft," Patelis told CRN.

"We think it’s a great idea as there are always businesses out there needing this style of support – could be people such as budget-conscious start-ups or people with very light requirements."

Patelis said that the small business segment is large in Australia and there is plenty of room for such services: "When businesses outgrow this type of support program, partners like us can step in and offer a more comprehensive support package with additional add-ons."

The new shop in the Westfield shopping centre will cater for partners as well as end users.

"The store will also serve as a venue for us to engage with the local community and partners," said the spokesperson. "This flagship store will be much more than a standard Microsoft store – it will be a centrepiece of the Microsoft store experience for the Asia-Pacific."

Microsoft revealed the store in May, its first flagship store outside of the United States. The vendor has more than 110 shops in North America that are considered "standard" and not "flagship", as well as 17 store-in-stores in China.

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