Microsoft has officially opened the doors of its flagship retail store in Westfield Sydney, the first such space outside North America.

When the decision to host the flagship store in Australia was made back in April, Australian managing director Pip Marlow called it a “significant development for our business locally as well as globally”.

Fast forward six months and the company is now inviting customers to see and experience everything the new-look Microsoft has to offer.

The queue for the grand opening officially started at 10pm on Wednesday November 11, ahead of the 12 noon opening today (Thursday November 12).

There was plenty on offer to get customers excited.

On the technology front, the flagship store is the only physical retail space in Australia where you can try and buy Microsoft’s new Surface Book and Band 2 fitness wearable.

While the Surface Book will also be available online, it appears the first run of Band 2 devices have been exclusively reserved for in-store purchase, with Microsoft saying they would be available “in limited volumes” for $379.

As with other store openings and device launches in recent years, the flagship also promised an experience: live music; fashion-illustrator Kerrie Hess live sketching in the store window on a Surface Pro 4; “hands-on experiences and workshops with health and fitness gurus, the Base Body Babes” for the first purchasers of Band 2 devices; and the chance to be greeted by and get photos with Master Chief and Spartan Locke from Halo.

“This is a key part of Microsoft’s commitment to deliver a truly interactive retail experience giving customers the opportunity to see, experience and do great things in the cutting-edge space on Pitt Street,” Microsoft said.

Perhaps the focus on creating an experience comes at least in part from hiring a former Apple store leader to run the Microsoft Sydney flagship.

It has been reported that Nick Wells – who opened four Apple stores in his time with the Cupertino giant in his six years’ there, including Apple’s Sydney flagship – will now run the flagship of its traditional computing rival.

The store layout

Details of what you can expect to find in the store have leaked out slowly over the past fortnight.

There are service counters – called answer desks – located on both floors of the store. They offer product help for customers that pre-book or simply walk in. That help includes virus removal, upgrades and troubleshooting.

The ground floor contains an Xbox living room space. It offers a broader experience than just Xbox – it’s also a space for Skype, Minecraft and tablet use, according to The Australian, which had a “hard hat tour” before opening.

Upstairs is a theatre space that is to be used for training and other sessions, more Xbox consoles and communal tables where customers can take advantage of unboxing and setup services if they buy a new product.

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