Microsoft’s announcement of its Surface tablets left many consumers and original equipment manufacturers (such as Acer, Dell, and HP) perplexed. Why would Microsoft seek to cannibalize its own partners’ sales of Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets? This development was at the very least surprising, and at most, a direct attack on the companies who provide Microsoft with the majority of its business.
One company that has only been critical of Microsoft’s bad decisions (such as releasing Windows Vista) is Acer. JT Wang, Acer’s CEO and chairman, gave Microsoft a direct warning: “Think twice. It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at so please think twice.”
Fighting words certainly.
Microsoft has been successful in the hardware space before, most obviously with the Xbox and Xbox 360, but Microsoft’s iPod competitor, Zune, certainly left something to be desired. Regardless of how successful Microsoft is with its own branded tablets, Acer’s CEO has an important point. By selling a product that directly competes with its partners, Microsoft is both alienating its OEMs and getting into a game it has no experience in.
Perhaps, we’ll see a shift from Windows to something else. If Microsoft is willing to compete with the companies it’s closest to, perhaps we’ll see a shift, maybe to Linux, maybe more to Google with Android, but this questions definitely bodes in the minds of many key manufacturers. The world will see the results of Microsoft’s decision soon enough.