On Windows 8, Surface and tablet wars

Posted by Guy Wright

Recently, certain execs at Acer made some rather strong comments about Microsoft’s upcoming Surface tablet.



The company bigwigs claimed ARM and x86 devices would "create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction."

Seriously? 

Is Acer threatening Microsoft? Can they even do that? Maybe not, but apparently the folks at HP weren’t too keen on Microsoft’s announcement either.

As I noted in a previous post on the subject, I seriously doubt that Acer and HP are going to be so upset that they stop making laptops, ultrabooks, or tablets just because Redmond enters the market. 

It’s not like Microsoft is going to drive them out of business overnight  - unless the company did something really stupid like price the OEM version of Windows 8 above $200.

On the contrary, Redmond has already completed phase one of any successful new product launch – they’ve generated tremendous buzz and anticipation. And, in fact, the more that Acer and HP whine about the new Surface, the more attention they bring to it.

Although maybe that’s the real reason Acer and HP is making noise – to bring as much attention to the new OS as possible so that they can sell more of their own tablets. Or maybe they really are upset. But I don’t think that the profit margins on tablets are high enough to launch wars over. When you start talking about workstations and server farms then your profit margins start becoming significant but not on tablets. (Actually, HP makes most of its profits on ink cartridges.)

But I seriously doubt the ‘controversy’ is going to amount to anything. After all, what would happen if Microsoft called their bluff? What if Microsoft said, ‘Okay, no Windows 8 licenses for you. Go get someone else’s operating system.’

What choices would Acer or HP have then? They can’t start loading iOS on their tablets. Symbian isn’t a viable option anymore and I’m not sure Bada is available for license. I suppose they could go with BlackBerry 10 (not likely), Linux, MeeGo or Tizen (probably not), or they can…gulp…try to
come out with their own, new operating system!?! (A trimmed down version of HP-UX? I don’t think so).

So that leaves Android. 

Now if you believe you are near the top of the pack when it comes to making hardware for hard working execs on the go then the idea of scrapping Intel in favor of ARM and Android in place of anything Microsoft is essentially admitting defeat.

Now perhaps all this posturing is just a way to gain a little leverage against Microsoft when it comes time to negotiate Windows 8 OEM licenses. Acer and HP can claim that Microsoft is going to damage their business, cut into their profits and hurt their feelings. And Microsoft might just  capitulate and give them a break on the new OS.