Microsoft made a big splash over here in Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, with its new Microsoft Store that opened earlier today. This retail store marks the company's 84th Microsoft Store in the world and the 7th in Canada. Luckily, I was able to attend the event, and let me tell you, it was a blast. Just a heads up, all pictures included were shot by my Nokia Lumia 920.
Typical with most Microsoft Store openings, some sort of band or artist takes center stage in the opening ceremony to get the crowd hyped up. Weezer was the lucky band to be involved with the Mississauga Microsoft Store opening.
For those that don't know, a typical Microsoft Store provides a showcase for the company's latest Windows Phone 8 handsets, Windows 8.1 devices, the Xbox One, Office 365, and much more. Microsoft provides a first-look at new products, offers midnight product launches, and even hands-on workshops at these retail stores.
The event initially started out on Friday at 10:00 PM where fans started to wait in line for the free Weezer concert tickets, set to take place Sunday Feb 9th at the Powerade Centre. Yes, they had to sleep overnight at the mall. Hardly a problem when there are free concert tickets to be given out. The next big thing was the opening ceremony, which took place from 10:30 AM until 11:00 AM, which is when the Microsoft retail store officially opened.
The first 200 people that got in the lineup for the opening of the Microsoft Store received two tickets, one for the concert as well as a meet-and-greet with Weezer, and the other one for the concert only. The next 2,500 people in line were able to get two viewing tickets for the Weezer concert, again, which takes place on Sunday February 9th at the Powerade Centre.
I arrived at the Microsoft Store at 9 AM, two hours before the store opening, and there was already a huge lineup.
As you can see in the pictures above, people have been waiting all night to reserve a seat for their free tickets for the Weezer concert, along with the opening of the Microsoft Store.
Like everyone else, I stood in line and was immediately confronted with a very nice and friendly Microsoft employee who welcomed me to the event, placed a wristband on my hand, and told me to wait to be registered by another employee. I waited two minutes and all of a sudden, I saw a Microsoft employee with a Windows Phone asking to tap my wristband. Right away, I knew it was NFC-powered, and I thought it was so damn cool. I bet Apple couldn’t do that. After tapping my wristband, I was told to type in my name, email address, and phone number on the employees Windows Phone to be entered in a special drawing and a chance to win some prizes.
Afterwards, another employee walked down the line and gave away free Microsoft T-shirts, which looked very nice too. But of course, what good is a grand opening without music? Microsoft acquired a DJ to play some mixes for fans during the wait, and it was, intense, fun, and LOUD!
Here’s what people had to say about the music!
Hey DJ! You are doing a fabulous job spinning the tunes at Microsoft store pre-opening! #MicrosoftON— Connie Tang (@TheMonkies) February 8, 2014
The next cool thing that excited me were the prizes Microsoft were giving out. People had to tweet with the #MicrosoftON hashtag to have a chance to win prizes like an Xbox One, a Weezer-signed guitar, and a Sony Action Cam. Here are the winners of the giveaways.
Microsoft also had a special promotion for the opening day. People were able to get the first generation Surface Pro for only $399, which is a saving of $200.
During the long wait, Microsoft’s marketing team did a tremendous job of showing off their products. They had an Xbox One booth where people got to try it out, a Surface loaded with FreshPaint where kids and adults got to test their artistic skills, and an Xbox One with Kinect where everyone had a chance to play Dance Central 2.
Speaking of marketing, I think Microsoft was successful in capturing my mind with all the posters placed everywhere in the shopping center. The company showcased the retail store opening on billboards, posters, mall guides, escalators, and even tables in the food court! I think the marketing team really deserves a pat on the back for advertising the biggest store opening in Square One.
Not only did its marketing consist of hard copies, but Microsoft had great event advertising on Twitter and Facebook. The advertising campaigns were fun and exciting, and it was nice to see @MicrosoftStore and @MicrosoftCanada interact with loyal fans who tweeted their experience live in the shopping mall using the #MicrosoftON hashtag.
Once the clock hit 10:30 AM, the opening ceremony began. Fans were introduced by the Head of PR of Microsoft Canada, along with the store manager, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, and Senator Victor Oh who read a letter on behalf of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulating Microsoft of its store opening.
Microsoft even set up several displays in various mall locations so everyone can see the live coverage of the opening ceremony. But not only that, they also showcased all tweets with the #MicrosoftON hashtag using the #tagboard service.
After those speakers, Microsoft followed its tradition and donated over one million dollars to local organizations such as Hospital of Sick Children Unicef Canada, and Community Living Mississauga.
Once the ceremony took place, the countdown finally took place, and let me tell you, it was amazing. Here’s a quick clip and a picture of the store after opening:
Overall, the event was an absolute blast. I had lots of fun, got to meet many new people, and best of all, got to see the hard working and dedicated Microsoft employees in action. Without them, this event wouldn’t have been what it was. Big thumbs up to the marketing team, the retail store employees, the Square One shopping center staff, and the security, who all contributed with full effort to make sure the event was safe and fun for everyone to enjoy. Thank you Microsoft.
Here’s what other attendees had to say about the event:
Microsoft is probably the best company to ever exist. #MicrosoftON— Bob villa (@Towerofcheeza) February 8, 2014
Can't wait to go check out the Microsoft Store today at Square One! Woo! #MicrosoftON— Maxim Amirian (@MaximAmirian) February 8, 2014
Amazing energy and hundreds of people in line for the new Microsoft store opening at Square One mall! #MicrosoftON— Janet Kennedy (@JKennedyMSFT) February 8, 2014
Chilling out still at #microsoftON and rather comfy. I'd like to thank the Microsoft crew for all their kindness this evening. Y'all rock.— Alexis Johnson (@alexisjoycelyn_) February 8, 2014
@microsoftcanada great day with the family at the Microsoft store opening! The vibe was amazing!!!— Marta Burakowska (@MartaAlicja) February 8, 2014
The Apple store, on the other hand, was having a pretty fun day too. Microsoft even managed to sneak an advertisement right outside the Apple Store. Take a look below.