Mall at UTC

Microsoft's store at The Mall at University Town Center invites former Tampa Bay Buccaneer for grand opening

UNIVERSITY PARK -- Tablets, phones and professional football stars are just a few of the offerings shoppers will find at Microsoft's store in The Mall at University Town Center on Thursday morning.

The store, near the mall's east entrance, will open at 11 a.m. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player and National Football League hall-of-famer Derrick Brooks will be on site to play XBOX with customers.

While Brooks may be the biggest celebrity, the star of the show will be the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 tablets.

"They're tablets that can replace computers," said Tracy Paar, community development specialist for the store.

Some of the other products Microsoft will feature in the roughly 2,000 square foot store include a smaller tablet, the HP Stream 7, on sale for $49 on grand opening day. The Dell Inspiron 15 desktop computer will also be available for a discounted price of $399.

Paar's role includes organizing summer camps that will encourage children to learn the fundamentals of coding and working with other community groups to come in for presentations and workshops using the store's theater area. The two programs the store will use to teach kids to code are Project Spark and Touch Develop.

Behind the store's theater area is the answer desk, where customers can ask questions, get software installed and troubleshoot with Microsoft employees.

The answer desk will work with any device, Paar said, even those not purchased at the mall. The answer desk also provides free diagnostics so employees can determine what kind of service customers need.

A sales specialist will work with area businesses and community organizations to meet their technology needs and a learning specialist will teach customers products and services. The learning specialist also will help the Microsoft store 30-person team stay up to date on technologies.

Connecting with the community and local businesses is a store goal said store manager Scott Pokorny. He was previously a store manager in

Tampa and has worked with Microsoft for three years.

The store's summer camps can provide a learning experience for the entire family.

"Parents get to see the value of kids being in front of a screen all day," Pokorny said. "They see that they're learning about technology, math, science and engineering."

Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter @jayohday.