Microsoft Surface Criticized by Windows Partners

by Matt Klassen on November 16, 2012

Microsoft had to know it was going to ruffle some feathers when it entered the tablet market with the recently released Surface tablet. Like Google with several of its Nexus products, the problem for software companies when they try to enter the hardware realm is that it automatically puts them in direct competition with their software partners, and Microsoft is no different.

Late this summer Windows partner Acer came forward with its concerns, going as far as to ask Microsoft to “think twice” about its tablet because producing devices, “is not something you are good at.” If that wasn’t surprising enough coming from a long time Windows partner, it looks like HP isn’t terribly thrilled with Microsoft’s tablet entry either.

In a recent interview HP PC business Chief Todd Bradley stated that his company could “hardly call Surface competition,” pointing out that the Surface tablet is quite flawed and simply doesn’t deserve all the hype that analysts and advertisers are generating. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

There’s no question that Microsoft’s Surface tablet is the device de jure, making many must-have technology lists heading into this holiday season. As I noted recently, the Surface has even made it on to Oprah’s 2012 list of “Favorite Things,” although perhaps such recognition may not mean what it used to.

The problem, according to Bradley, is that the Surface doesn’t deserve any of this attention. So what’s wrong with the Surface? “One, very limited distribution,” Bradley answered to that very question, adding that, “It tends to be slow and a little kludgey [sic]as you use it….It’s expensive. Holistically, the press has made a bigger deal out of Surface than what the world has chosen to believe.” While I have no idea what ‘kludgey’ means, it certainly doesn’t sound good.

With Bradley’s criticism, HP officially joins Acer as the most vocal critics of Microsoft’s foray into the tablet market, as several months ago the latter lambasted the software giant for its ill-conceived and misguided attempt at taking on Apple. In fact, almost every major division head within Acer let their voice be heard at one time or another in an attempt to steer customers back to Acer tablet products.

Although Acer’s anger towards the competition generated by its longtime Windows partner, its hard to see why HP is so angry, given that the PC manufacturer has no consumer tablets on the market, and no plans to make any in the near future. HP does offer one tablet for enterprise customers, the ElitePad 900, and perhaps this criticism is motivated by the sense that the Surface could offer some competition in the business sector as well.

There’s no question that by offering the Surface tablet Microsoft has radically altered its foundational business strategy, seemingly no longer content to watch its partners struggle and fail to produce successful Windows tablets.  But as I’ve said before, perhaps there’s more to Microsoft’s tablet strategy than meets the eye, as some are convinced that the Surface is merely Microsoft’s attempt at blazing a trail into the tablet market for its partners while growing its Windows 8 brand. Once complete, the theory goes, Microsoft will quietly slip out of the market altogether.

In the end, such criticism of Microsoft’s Surface tablet is really not surprising. What is surprising, however, is that such vocal negativity is coming from Microsoft’s longtime partners; evidence of some serious infighting in the Windows ecosystem or perhaps all part of a clever Windows marketing ruse?

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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