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Store Without Walls is Finding Success at Westfarms

Microsoft Specialty Store began as just a holiday store, but will remain year round.

The Microsoft Specialty Store was initially planned as just a holiday store, but it has now become a permanent fixture adjacent to the Westfarms Mall Center Court.

"We have transitioned into part of the specialty team, and have extended our lease another year in the same space," said Store Manager Gabe Cardona. He would love to one day become a "brick and mortar" store with four walls, but for now, the store is thriving as a large, centrally located kiosk operation.

A major factor in the store's success is the Microsoft Surface RT, which Cardona called a "tablet with laptop capabilities." The Feb. 9 launch (delayed a day at Westfarms because of the blizzard) of Microsoft's highly-touted Surface Windows 8 Pro, "a laptop with tablet capabilities," will no doubt add to the store's growth.

Cardona said the Surface products have had broad appeal to Microsoft customers who are looking for cloud-based storage capability – that the company calls its "sky drive" – as well as the convenience of the lightweight hybrid laptop/tablet products.

"We qualify our customers very carefully," said Cardona, when they are trying to choose between the RT and Pro devices.

Cardona said he has also been working with schools in the area as wireless networks are being built. Microsoft RTs will be added to the library at West Hartford's Webster Hill Elementary School, he said.

The only other Microsoft store in Connecticut is located in Danbury, and that is a full line store. There is also a store in the Prudential Center in Boston.

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