Microsoft has never really seriously pursued the PC hardware side of things, instead teaming with large manufacturers for computers and smartphones.
But now Microsoft wants to get into the hardware market with its Surface tablet, and many of its hardware partners aren’t exactly happy about it.
The problem? Manufacturers will now be competing directly against their software supplier, and Microsoft’s operating systems are a quite big chunk of the cost of building a computer.
One of the angriest Microsoft partners is probably Acer and its founder Stan Shih. This week Shih made the claim that Microsoft’s Surface tablet was merely a tool to boost adoption Windows 8. Shih went so far as to state that Microsoft has no real intention of entering the hardware market.
Rather, says Shih, Redmond is unlikely to try to compete with Android and the iPad because the cost to build hardware would yield less profit than its traditional software licensing method.
Yes, Shih does make somewhat of a valid point. It wouldn’t be completely out of the realm of possibility for Microsoft to unveil a device like the Surface tablet as a demonstration platform of sorts for software partners to emulate. Still, Microsoft hasn’t given us any indication that the Surface is anything but a serious attempt to break into the lucrative tablet market.
The first Microsoft Surface tablets to roll out are expected to offer Wi-Fi support only. This obviously won’t be popular with mobile types and road warriors who want broadband connectivity anywhere they go. Surface tablets are also rumored to carry a retail price more in line with high-end ultrabooks than most tablets – possibly weighing in at a $700-$800 price point.
Not including wireless broadband is certainly a strange decision for Microsoft to make when it is clearly targeting Apple’s iPad, which offers 3G and 4G connectivity.