Microsoft plans Boston retail store

New lab in NYC will be run from Cambridge

The West Coast software giant Microsoft Corp. is enlarging its East Coast footprint with a new research facility in New York City and its first retail store in Massachusetts, opening at the Prudential Center.

The New York laboratory will be overseen by officials at Microsoft’s Cambridge operations and is the 13th such facility in the world. It will have 15 computer scientists and academics, at least three of whom were formerly with Yahoo Research, who may look into such topics as the future effects of social media or advancements in machine learning.

The big investments in research may not immediately benefit Microsoft marquee products such as its Windows operating system, but may result in future business opportunities and technological advancements.


“If you let people do blue-sky research, as a byproduct you get things that have huge impact on the company,’’ said Jennifer Chayes, the managing director of Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge. She will run the New York center.

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Microsoft’s Cambridge facility has been doing work with the computer scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

It also hosts visiting researchers and post-doctoral students from other schools. The New York lab gives it an opportunity to tap into research at schools such as Princeton University and Yale University, Chayes said.

The development of Microsoft Amalga’s Readmissions Manager, a software program that hospitals use to analyze patient data, was the result of research done at the Cambridge facility, which has 15 full-time researchers.

Eventually some of the knowledge generated in Cambridge and New York could make its way into the gadgets being sold at the growing number of stores that Microsoft is opening around the country.


The store at the Shops at Prudential Center will be its 17th, as Microsoft tries to catch up with rival Apple Inc. in establishing closer ties to retail consumers.

“Boston is a great market for us, one we’ve been targeting ever since we opened our first store,’’ said Mika Yamamoto, general manager of marketing for Microsoft’s retail chain. Yamamoto said the company had delayed coming to Boston because “we wanted to find the perfect spot.’’

By contrast, Apple has more than 360 stores worldwide.

Microsoft’s stores feature personal computers running the company’s Windows 7 software, smartphones running Windows Phone 7 software, and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video game console.

The stores also provide free training and support for Microsoft products, including a section devoted to small-business users.


Yamamoto said that selling Microsoft products directly at retail would help the company better understand the needs of consumers.

‘Stores enable us to have a direct connection to our customers.’

Mika Yamamoto Retail chain’s general manager of marketing

“Stores enable us to have a direct connection to our customers so we have real-time feedback,’’ she said.

The company has not said when the Prudential Center store will open.

Michael B. Farrell can be reached at

Because of an editing error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of research facilities Microsoft Inc. operates. The company has 13 such centers worldwide. Also, the story should have specified that work at Microsoft’s research lab in Cambridge led to the development of software called Readmissions Manager, which is part of Microsoft Amalga.