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back to article Microsoft Surface slate: Acer, resellers predict a riot

Microsoft has scored two own goals by getting into the hardware game with Surface, the software giant's design for a laptop that thinks it's a tablet: long-standing PC manufacturers are alienated, and there is growing disquiet in the channel over Redmond's decision to sell the lap slab direct. The Pegatron-built Surface slate …

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could be important to compete?

Thanks, I needed a laugh this morning.

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Re: could be important to compete?

Will this mean Linux will finally come of age when all the manufacturers dump windows in a temper tantrum?

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Go MS!

Yes MS, please keep this policy up! It is the best new in years. Hopefully by screwing your OEM partners over they will start to offer hardware with an OS that isn't Windows.

Then we might actually get to see some competition in the PC market!

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HMB
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Re: Go MS! - Actually customers should come first

I really dislike this attitude. I like the idea of more choice from OEM's there's no problem with that, but loads of people seem to have this ridiculous notion that Microsoft should look after their OEM's first when actually they should be looking after their customers first.

Companies aren't there to look after distributors, they're supposed to be looking after their customers. Occasionally that means a revolution resulting in pain for some businesses to the benefit of the consumer.

I sometimes wonder if the same people bitching about Microsoft not looking after it's distributors are also the people who praise Apple for being in control of the whole process.

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Re: Go MS! - Actually customers should come first

Incorrect. A company such as MS should be looking after the shareholders; looking after the customers would mean having a vibrant marketplace with open competition to drive innovation and keep prices in check, something MS has managed to long resist.

I really don't care what MS does with/against it's customers, I just hope the "riot" which ensues will see some break away from MSs vice-like grip and offer alternatives.

You know, a choice.

Something that would benefit the customer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Go MS!

Before accusing Microsoft, think of how many Android Tablets Acer has released over past 12 months. The fact is OEM will support whatever sells. If Win8 gains market acceptance, there is no worry. I bet Acer will be happy to sell iconiaMac if Apple allows it.

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Re: Go MS! - Actually customers should come first

Apple also have a fraction of the market share. I don't their investors will be happy with MS wanting to be exactly like apple with fewer options to sell.

And they are a monopoly, quite rightly governments won't be happy about them changing their model after the fact and creating even more unemployed people just so MS can retain their monopoly which hasn't offered us anything of value anyway.

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@HMB Re: Go MS! - Actually customers should come first

But from Microsoft's position the OEM is the customer. The rest of us are users.

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Re: Go MS! - Actually customers should come first

OEMs are probably the largest type of customer for MS .

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Mushroom

Re: Go MS!

Who cares what the OEMs think. All I want to tknow is when can I preorder one???

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@toadwarrior - Re: Go MS! - Actually customers should come first

Governments caring about monopolies creating unemployment ? I wonder where did you get such nonsense!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Go MS! - Actually customers should come first

The choice in the market is between lots of really ugly plasticy laptops with a million Intel, Made for Windows stickers all over them (which often take the paint off when removed).

The laptops that do stand out are from Sony or from vendors cloning the look of Macbook Pros (HP and others).

Microsoft can actually design things that look pretty good when they put their mind to it. It's a shame the OEMs can't. They'll just rip off Microsoft's design as "cloning" is their speciality.

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Re: Go MS! - Actually customers should come first

"Incorrect. A company such as MS should be looking after the shareholders"

Well theoretically looking after the customers means they want to buy your product and then the shareholders are happy.

Theoretically.

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Re: Go MS! - Actually customers should come first

@Dave 142 "Well theoretically looking after the customers means they want to buy your product and then the shareholders are happy."

Indeed - now who are MS's customers? OEMs? Service Providers? Enterprise? The great unwashed (i.e. consumers)?

I put it to you that it's the first two, with "enterprise" some way behind and "the great unwashed" barely registering. Simply because consumers do not rush out and by "a Windows". They buy "an Acer/Sony/Toshiba/ASUS" that happens to run Windows. MS do advertise to consumers, but only to drive customers to towards OEMs.

By selling their own hardware, MS are basically shoving two-fingers up to their biggest customers and playing a dangerous game as they are already a convicted monopolist. And before the fanbois start; I have a fairly dim view of Apple, although that is "less bad" as they are not a monopoly and have never had OEMs (beyond cloners whom they crushed).

My genuine hope is that enough OEMs take umbrage at this and start to release some of their devices with a different OS. Not because I am a bleeding-heart penguin-ista, but because there is no competition within the consumer space and thus very little innovation. Apple stuck the cat amongst the pigeons simply because it was not MS/Windows and could do things in a new way.

A further advantage beyond innovation is interoperability. If there are enough users of alternatives, all players get forced to interoperate (i.e. conform to standards) and this massively increases customer choice as well as improve longevity. And by "standards" I mean "publicly available and patent/copyright free"

At the moment we are stuck in a world of false choice. We can change the badge on the car, but the chassis and engines are all the same.

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Happy

Re: Go MS!

"If Win8 gains market acceptance,"

oh sugar... you owe me one new keyboard... just snorted my coffee out my nose all over it...

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Re: Go MS!

Or it will force the makers of cheap and tacky hardware to take notice and actually produce some decent kit for a change...

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Re: Go MS!

Oh - that's right, there aren't any OEMS already offering Linux on their PC's. Yeah I forgot.

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FAIL

Acer were big supporters of the tablet form factor a decade ago, and good partners to Microsoft.

As a *customer*, I must say that they're completely hopeless at backing their tablets once they've got your cash. if you want to talk about alienation, I'm quite happy to put up my hand.

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Anonymous Coward

Let them riot

Products like Surface and Nexus are a good way for a software company to keep the hardware manufacturers (and telcos) in line, ensuring they don't stray too far from how the product is supposed to work.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let them riot

"Products like Surface and Nexus are a good way for a software company to keep the hardware manufacturers (and telcos) in line"

Products like Android, Linux and other alternatives are a good way for an OEM Company to get a declining software company in line.

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Re: Let them riot

The following quote from Acer made me laugh: "It is not something you are good at, so please think twice"

Acer wouldn't object if the Surface was a worse product than their own. They're more concerned about it being better. Statements from MS about "we might sell a few million" and that they'll only be selling them directly, not through the "channel" begin to point more strongly toward the Surface being a tool to make manufacturers up their game, rather than an actual plan to enter the hardware market in a large capacity. I'm well in favour of that - if MS can get the others to up their game, that's a great thing, imo.

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Re: Let them riot

It seems counterproductive to offer a product that a) competes with your OEM partners.who are your customers and pay you $90 a device, b) is claimed to be superior to anything your partners offer and c) is going to be pricey and not widely available.

The end result might result in end customers just going elsewhere.

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@h4rm0ny - Re: Let them riot

No it's rather a tool to bring back OEMs in line, they've been acting too independently in the last years.

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Clam down people

The surface is based on the same OS as WinPhone. Why are they panicking? No one is going to buy the thing anyway.

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Re: Clam down people

Surface is either WinRT (Windows on ARM) or full Windows 8, depending upon the tablet you get. So it's only the same OS on a WP8, if you are talking about the Kernel.

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Mushroom

Re: Clam down people

Speak for yourself. I want one, and they will be massive in the corporate space.

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Happy

Re: Clam down people

"The surface is based on the same OS as WinPhone. Why are they panicking? No one is going to buy the thing anyway."

I'm not so sure, given the excruciating embarrassment of its worldwide launch, when it locked up completely... after all, given the increasing unpredictability of the weather, millions of people will need something to wedge their doors open with in a high wind...

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Stop

Re: Clam down people

He's talking about this junk UI called Metro* that everyone hates so far...

*or whatever its name right now - seeing the horrible reception of this broken crap no wonder Microsoft is trying to change the name...

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Make something better

OEMs are only worried because the surface looks good. Of course at the moment we know nothing about price or any real specs but if MS sells a tablet that is better than yours for less money why wouldn't you worry.

MS should do the same thing with laptops, turn out something with a decent resolution so the OEMs have an idea of what a laptop made in 2012 should look like (hint, it should probably have better resolution than ones sold in 2002)

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Re: Make something better

I agree. It takes someone like Apple to design something like the MacBook Air, then someone like Intel to do R&D and produce and promote reference designs, before the Acers et al can produce something comparable. Left to their own devices, all they'll come up with is endless mediocre me-too products, while cutting as many corners as possible to maintain their margins.

Perhaps Microsoft should license the Surface design to OEMs, or let them produce clones (with very strict rules to make sure they don't f*#k up the design). The current plan seems to be to hope that the OEMs will take a lead from the Surface and come up with good designs of their own to compete, but I'm not entirely convinced that that will happen.

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Re: Make something better

"Left to their own devices, all they'll come up with is endless mediocre me-too products, while cutting as many corners as possible to maintain their margins."

Exactly. The Surface could be exactly the kick in the rear that companies like Acer, HP etc so desperately need. Hey maybe it will even be free of cr@pware.

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Anyone think Balmer may secretly be working for apple or linux? I mean, the sabotage of the windows interface, the alienation of their hardware partners. He must be working for one of those companies.

Unless another fourth entity is working on its own OS which will be revealed around 2013.

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Mushroom

lol.. Given how much they have royally screwed the interface, I wouldn't completely discount it. Either that or he's got a hidden grudge against Bill :)

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Headmaster

"working for linux[sic]"

You speak as if "Linux" was a company, you know, a commercial entity in its own right.

It'd be like working for "Windows", "iOS" or "Ubuntu" as opposed to working for Microsoft, Apple or Canonical.

I don't think Ballmer's type would be tolerated on LKML however. ;-)

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"we may sell a few million, I don't know how many"

Dear God Almighty. A multi-billion dollar corporate CEO actually dares to come out with a statement like that? Can you ever imagine Gates, Jobs or anyone else saying such a crass thing?

In the UK it is really easy - you give the man a peerage, a non-executive directorship and an electric golf cart. What's the alternative to dealing with Ballmer in the US?

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Stop

Re: "we may sell a few million, I don't know how many"

Become a politician - and no, I really don't want to see that.

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Re: "we may sell a few million, I don't know how many"

"Dear God Almighty. A multi-billion dollar corporate CEO actually dares to come out with a statement like that? Can you ever imagine Gates, Jobs or anyone else saying such a crass thing?"

Sounds pretty much perfect as a threat, to be honest. If the other manufacturers don't start producing better quality products, they'll just order another million. And they'll keep doing it until better quality hardware for Win8 appears. In this scenario you don't want to give a hard number, you want to keep it open ended as all good threats should be.

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Trollface

Re: "we may sell a few million, I don't know how many" (@ Julian Taylor)

" What's the alternative to dealing with Ballmer in the US?"

I once overheard something about taking him to the backyard and putting him to sleep. Think it was in an episode of 'Family guy'.

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Re: "OEMs are Microsoft's customers." No, when it comes down to it.............

..........we are their customers. If MS are at last waking up to that (for whatever reason), so much the better. The OEMs are simply the middlemen. When they finally have absorbed that message the better for all of us.

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Re: "OEMs are Microsoft's customers." No, when it comes down to it.............

No, microsft sell to OEMs so the OEM is their customer and one that still earns them a ton of money and they pissing them off. If the OEMs decided right now not to sell windows then MS is fucked, you aren't going to save them.

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Whilst one can of course have various opinions about both the new os and............

..............whether or not MS are wise to get into the hardware game in this area I cannot believe that I am the only one who thinks the "Acer" is one of the last OEMs who has any right to be the one leading the charge here.

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Re: Whilst one can of course have various opinions about both the new os and............

Totally agree. I've experienced the "pleasure" of having to deal with the crap they nail into computer cases before. Just the once mind, it arrived faulty, it was sent back with a note with the fault fully described. It came back with the same fault, money was (eventually) refunded.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Whilst one can of course have various opinions about both the new os and............

You are correct, Acer is a grownup company that should be able to survive without relying on Microsoft OS. If not, then they should quit the PC business.

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Re: Whilst one can of course have various opinions about both the new os and............

Acer have the most to worry about. You don't see Toshiba or Lenovo getting all panicky about a new entrant to the market.

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Bring it!

This sort of article pointing out the possible 'rift' between Microsoft and it's OEM partners is a little late to the party isn't it? Tech news and blog sites went over this again and again after the surface was announced. What purpose does it serve to cover it again ... unless of course, there is an agenda to push.

The reasons why Microsoft are doing this are obvious. Time and again Microsoft released products that had a huge amount of potential, only for OEM partners to release hardware that was lukewarm at best, and failed to deliver the promise that was absolutely possible.

This, therefore is no different from graphics chip vendors selling their own reference graphics cards, or Intel selling motherboards of it's own, whilst also simultaneously selling chipsets to third parties. It's not going to be the big 'problem' being suggested - all it will do is help ensure that there's at least one tablet out there that really shines, and if OEMs rise to the challenge, there will be plenty of alternative choices that shine too. Let's wait and see.

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Re: Bring it!

>or Intel selling motherboards of it's own whilst also simultaneously selling chipsets to third parties

AMD actually goes one better and only does a reference chipset to get the ball rolling to allow 3rd parties to make their own chipsets unlike Intel who use the courts to prevent this.

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Re: Bring it!

> Time and again Microsoft released products that had a huge amount of potential, only for OEM partners to release hardware that was lukewarm at best, and failed to deliver the promise that was absolutely possible.

OEMs make a range of hardware from cheap PCs to expensive top of the range. If you want 'absolutely possible' then pay the price of that it _is_ available.

But then you probably want Ferrari machines for Yugo prices and wind up disappointed.

OEMs do have an issue with Microsoft, they have to send much of their revenue to them for Windows and Office on PCs. For tablets they will have to send $80 or so for the privilege of making these, yet MS will probably have to subsidize Surface to have it sell, or at least not charge themselves the $80.

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