Editor's take: As I suspect we are going to increasingly see, Microsoft over the past few months realized that its brick-and-mortar presence was no longer essential. Instead, Microsoft will move forward with a renewed focus on its digital storefronts and continue to offer new services like 1:1 video chat support and virtual workshops.

Microsoft on Friday announced a dramatic shift in its retail strategy that'll see the company permanently close all of its physical Microsoft Store locations.

Like many others, Microsoft shut down its retail storefronts in mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some impacted employees got busy training small business and education customers on how to work remotely during the new normal. Others stepped up to help host workshops, summer camps and virtual graduations, Redmond said.

Microsoft has spent the better part of the past decade building a retail footprint to rival companies like Apple. Its flagship store, on 5th Avenue in New York City, opened its doors in late 2015, just blocks away from Apple's iconic glass cube store.

The company didn't mention anything about layoffs in its announcement; it sounds as if most or all of the displaced retail employees will be retrained to work remotely on other tasks.

Microsoft said the closings will result in a pre-tax charge of about $450 million, or $0.05 per share, that'll be recorded in the current quarter which ends on June 30, 2020.

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