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Microsoft to permanently close most stores

Microsoft says it will "reimagine" its Sydney store as the firm shuts most of its outlets worldwide

Microsoft says it is permanently closing nearly all of its physical stores around the world.

Like other retailers, the software and computing giant had to temporarily close all of its stores in late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to its website, Microsoft has 72 stores in the US and several others abroad where they sell laptops and other hardware.

Friday's announcement reflects what the company calls a "strategic change" for its retail business as sales increasingly shift online.

Microsoft said it would "reimagine" the physical spaces at its four high-profile Microsoft Experience Centers in New York City, London, Sydney and at the US company's headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

Microsoft said the closures would result in a pre-tax charge of about $US450 million ($A657 million), or 5 US cents per share, taken in the current quarter ending June 30.

The company didn't say if the move would result in lay-offs.