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Microsoft's Surface Caught Windows OEMs By Surprise 565

MojoKid writes "Microsoft's Surface isn't just an attempt to take on the iPad or an articulation of MS's independent design philosophy — it's a fundamental threat against the OEMs who've spent decades as Microsoft's partners and collectively destroyed the industry's perception of the PC as a high-value product. The adversarial roots run deep. Microsoft didn't tell its partners about Surface until three days before the event and gave only the most minimal details on the product. Only the largest vendors even got a phone call; Asus and Acer, the 4th and 5th largest PC manufacturers worldwide, have stated that they had no idea anything was coming. For OEMs who have spent decades working in lock-step with Redmond, that's deeply unsettling."
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Microsoft's Surface Caught Windows OEMs By Surprise

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:13AM (#40411053)

    HP and Dell are doing just fine killing themselves on their own, don't need Microsoft's help

  • Welcome to reality (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yacc143 ( 975862 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:15AM (#40411067) Homepage

    Okay, so you've been partnering with the evil Overlord for decades, and you thought yourself immune?

    I don't think that there are many former MS partners alive, and of those, all are alive not because MS, no they are alive despite MS.

  • Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:16AM (#40411075)

    Apple has taught them well. First locking down the software supply chain (Metro marketplace), now secrecy for new products.

  • by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:19AM (#40411123) Homepage Journal

    Once upon a time a scorpion needed to cross the river and asked a frog to carry him across.
    "No, you'll sting me", said the frog.
    "I promise I won't", responded the scorpion.
    Somewhat dubiously the frog agreed and they started to cross the river, the scorpion riding on the frogs back. However, halfway across the river,t he frog felt a siny sting and noticed the sting of the scorpions tail sticking into him.

    "Why have you done that?", The frog asked as he died agonisingly.
    "Because it's in my nature", returned the scorpion as the waters swallowed them both.

  • Survival (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FearTheDonut ( 2665569 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:24AM (#40411175)
    For Microsoft, this isn't so much as a betrayal, as it is survival. Microsoft has spend decades relying upon third-parties innovating hardware in order to sell Windows Licenses. And, especially of late, those third-parties have failed. With the mobile market taking off and those third parties having mediocre mobile hardware AT BEST, Microsoft has no choice than to make a product. Maybe, it will diminish into a mere reference design, but only if those third parties actually get to serious work. This should be a wake up call for HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc., to "innovate or die." Of course, if Microsoft has signed agreements saying they'd never create a competing device, it IS downright betrayal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:27AM (#40411209)

    There is a simple reason why MS is releasing their own tablet, the OEMs like Acer, Asus, etc.. keep producing shoddy pieces of crap. It is impossible for MS to compete in the tablet space with Apple when all the products are cheap, half baked, poorly designed products. In addition all these companies have been happy to jump on any and every bandwagon at the expense of MS.

    Yet they expect MS to keep supporting them while they continually stab MS in the back? fat chance.

  • Too bad MS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bastafidli ( 820263 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:28AM (#40411243) Homepage

    Actually I believe this is too bad for MS, they chose wrong time. Now the OEMs actually have an options (Android, Ubuntu and co.) to deliver compeling use experience without MS. The one who can actually loose here is MS, since it can have hard time to compete with gazillions of generic lower priced offerings on the bottom end and iPad on the high end.

  • by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:32AM (#40411289)

    You mean the second-best selling console of ths generation that was making profit on hardware sales long before Sony did with the PS3? Oh and let's not the billion+ revenue that Xbox Live brings in a year. Yeah, what a failure the 360 has been for Microsoft.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:35AM (#40411315)

    The way the story is normally told the scorpion specifically points out that the frog can trust it because stinging the frog would kill them both. The way you tell it, having the frog seemingly rely on the scorpion's promise instead of the scorpion's self interest, makes the frog seem dumb at the beginning.

  • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:36AM (#40411327)

    "Sources close to Microsoft have told us that the software giant built Surface because it was unhappy with the way its traditional partners [such as HP and Dell] weren't innovating around its next-generation operating system."

    I wonder why manufacturers might not be "innovating around" windows mobile, or whatever they call it these days. Because there isn't any demand...? Because MS is 5 years too late to the party...?

  • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:39AM (#40411357) Journal

    The secret wasn't that they were testing a tablet idea and interface, it was that they were going to build the thing themselves.

    The common assumption would be the MS was going to do things like they have for the last 3+ decades. That is, they'll make the software and the OEMs will make the hardware.

  • by kervin ( 64171 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:40AM (#40411367) Homepage

    The rest of the industry has had years to come back with an IPad competitor. Yet even with Apple sourcing all its hardware from the same parties, these OEMs haven't been unable to compete.

    Yes, they didn't have Win8 but they had Android and potentially WebOS.

    Right now MS realizes that the only way to take on Apple right now is to match ( or copy if you prefer ) their best moves.

  • Re:Survival (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cplusplus ( 782679 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:41AM (#40411379) Journal
    Uh... already they do make hardware, and they've sold tens of millions of units to end users - the XBox. I'm pretty sure Microsoft can handle this. Microsoft is also no stranger to lawsuits :)
  • Lockstep, my ass (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daemonenwind ( 178848 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:44AM (#40411411)

    For years now, I've been building my own PCs. I expect most people on this board do the same.

    Why? So I don't have a crap power supply. So the motherboard has a few features beyond "power on". For decent air cooling. The hardware reasons go on and on. For years, anything that you couldn't easily put in a 20-word blurb about a PC has been shaved down and sacrificed beyond bone-deep cuts to create truly craptastic hardware setups.

    I'm rather confident this isn't the vision Microsoft had as it built its OS. At least, not for the *entire* non-boutique market.

    And then there's the software. My god, the crapware that gets shoveled onto computers. On the rare occasion I bow down to necessity and buy a laptop, the first thing I do is buy a new license to Windows, wipe the thing, and start fresh. It's damn near unusuable otherwise, thanks to the likes of McAfee, Norton, SomeDamnKidsGamesCompany, Yahoo, Earthlink, Google, AskJeeves, and every other piece of stupid bloaty crashy adware that I have to pull out root and branch.

    I'm rather confident this isn't the vision Microsoft had as it built its OS. At least, not for the *entire* non-boutique market.

    It will be a joy and a wonder to see someone not fuck over a Windows machine before it ever comes out of the box. Eyes will be opened, tears of joy will be shed, and people will think it's all because of Windows 8.

    And that's the true shame.

    Because it was always there to begin with.

  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:47AM (#40411469) Homepage

    Apple has always gained value from controlling the software and the hardware. How many Windows headaches are directly attributable to the @#)(*#@) hardware various OEMs use?

    But the iOS success has really made it clear: Control the hardware supply chain and you can produce products (e.g. the iPad, the iPhone) that are actually cheaper than your competitor's products, as well as better.

    (For those who say the iPhone is not cheaper, its that the carriers subsidize it less because the phone itself is more valuable to customers. Compare the no-contract price of a shiny new Samsung Galaxy or Windows phone vs an iPhone 4s)

  • by elabs ( 2539572 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:47AM (#40411473)
    If Surface is a success it will jumpstart the entire Windows ecosystem and check the growth of the iPad. This will only help the OEMs in the end. If it's not a success then it's not a threat to OEMs.
  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:50AM (#40411521)
    When Microsoft makes the Surface OS open source, you'll have a comparison to make.
  • They rely on microsoft more than the other way round, therefore microsoft can treat them however they like with impunity.
    It just goes to show that you shouldn't build your business in such a way that its dependent on a single supplier.
    Notice how about the most successful computer manufacturer these days is the only one who doesn't rely on ms and is able to differentiate themselves?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:54AM (#40411571)

    Because these companies were never innovators to begin with. They were box builders with economies of scale.

  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:59AM (#40411647) Homepage

    You buy a $600 Mac Mini, drop in more RAM, then install the OS of your choice on it...

    One of the things Apple does is make sure that their hardware isn't the bottom-of-the-line crap that PC OEMs use.

    So yeah, with a Mac Mini, you're paying a $200 premium for the elegant packaging compared to the typical PE OEM drek of comparible specs, but you also get IO chips that don't blow dead goats.

    Apple is vicious about getting the most out of their suppliers, but at the same time, they demand a level of quality out of their suppliers thats lacking in the misbegotten cess-pool that is the rest of the x86 OEM world.

  • They would be grossly negligent if they didn't try to jump on every non-ms bandwagon...

    MS has lots of OEMs...
    Each OEM only has one MS.

    You DON'T make a business around a single supplier...

    That supplier can seriously damage or even destroy your business at any time, wether through incompetence, malice or simple selfish profit motives and there's nothing you can do about it. Your only sensible course of action is ensure that you are never dependent on a single supplier.

  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:05AM (#40411743) Homepage Journal
    Nokia was going with their corporate suicide schedule pretty well, but Microsoft gave them an extra push anyway. Maybe is doing the same with those 2 too.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:08AM (#40411771) Homepage Journal

    "Sources close to Microsoft have told us that the software giant built Surface because it was unhappy with the way its traditional partners [such as HP and Dell] weren't innovating around its next-generation operating system."

    I wonder why manufacturers might not be "innovating around" windows mobile, or whatever they call it these days. Because there isn't any demand...? Because MS is 5 years too late to the party...?

    cough PCs are commodity resources cough

    Seriously, this is like 1973, but with tablets and phones rather than cars - price of gas suddenly goes sky high (from 0.25$US/gallon to about 1.30$US/gallon, shortages abound) the GM, Ford, Chrysler and American Motoros only focused on big V8 engines (think 6L or more displacement) Meanwhile the automakers of the rest of the world, who made cars which could stretch a gallon to 25 or more miles ate their lunch. Took about 10 years for Detroit to sort their junk out.

    PCs have been more cores, more clock, more memory, but basically the same old sh*t operating system, just more confusing from release to release. Then the iPhone shows up and reveals not everyone is in love with being chained to a desktop or laptop (which can only choke out a few hours on battery.) Paradigm change.

    Early Win XP tablets are clunky and problematic, because the operating system isn't geared to the interface. Most tablets are useless without a keyboard. Then the iPad launches and people find they don't need no steenking keyboard (though still nice to have sometimes, it's not entirely necessary.)

    Now the war is in full swing between Google and Apple, which have trampled the laptop and desktop markets, largely because people want to be more portable and more mobile. And there are loads of apps which work great, Android promotes development more openly than Apple. And Microsoft has no answer but some abandoned Slate thingie.

    Lot of water under the bridge and now iOS and Android rule the roost, with large customer bases, app stores, consumer acceptance (even lust in some cases.) Microsoft thinks they're going to walk in with these things and get it right on the first try, because their OEM buds were dropping the ball? Not quite.

    Fewer people need Microsoft and many are happy to be free of that enigmatic and often incompetent company (Hey, what's a few security holes here and there? How about a few botched OS releases?) Honestly, adios MS.

  • Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:12AM (#40411835) Homepage Journal

    MS devised Surface, very clever and a rational progression from Kinect. Quick, how many manufacturers have integrated Kinect into their products? I'm unaware of it being integrated into any hardware. Would a Kinect interface in a laptop be interesting?

    So, it's really like this: If you want your innovations in the marketplace fast, you better be putting them there yourself. Apple gets this.

    Microsoft can either plead with its 'partners' to build these things, or they can contract with a partner or two to make stuff for them.

    Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, etc are not going to risk much making cool PC stuff, they are just volume manufacturers. Some (Dell) aren't really manufacturers at all.

    So Microsoft will contract for stuff that is cool. Apple does this, and iPads get the better technology earlier. Microsoft's Surface would NOT, repeat NOT be on the market before 2014 if left to the manufacturers. They need to noodle over the design, drive out the cost, maximize profit, and guarantee a market. Microsoft needs to establish themselves in the market, get there before someone else does, and provide the MVP to at least leverage their capital and crush the opposition. Surface is a step past whatever the iPad interface is. Gestures that don't even need a touch screen interest me.

    Apple strategy. Evil is as evil does, no matter the name on the product.

    If you need examples of failure, the HP touchpad and RIM Playbook come to mind first. Toshiba, Acer, etc have tablets that are superfluous in the marketplace. If you want the iPad market, you have to do B E T T E R than the iPad.

    'as good as' leads me to just buy an iPad. Feh.

  • by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:13AM (#40411853)

    I know the prevailing Slashdot wisdom about Microsoft partners and prevalent urban legends and fairy tales, but does someone have any hard numbers on how much revenues and profit the OEMs have made with Windows PC over the past 3 decades? A hundred billion? How about they invest some of those profits to try to one up Apple, Microsoft' Surface and Amazon. How is it Microsoft's fault that OEMs are failing to match Apple?

    Lets take Compaq:

    In November 1982 Compaq announced their first product, the Compaq Portable, a portable IBM PC compatible personal computer. It was released in March 1983 at $2995, considerably more affordable than the Canadian Hyperion. The Compaq Portable was one of the progenitors of today's laptop; some called it a "suitcase computer" for its size and the look of its case. It was the second IBM PC compatible, being capable of running all software that would run on an IBM PC. It was a commercial success, selling 53,000 units in its first year and generating $111 million in sales revenue. The Compaq Portable was the first in the range of the Compaq Portable series. Compaq was able to market a legal IBM clone because IBM mostly used "off the shelf" parts for their PC. Furthermore, Microsoft had kept the right to license the operating system to other computer manufacturers. The only part which had to be duplicated was the BIOS, which Compaq did legally by using clean room reverse engineering at a cost of $1 million.[12][13][14] Phoenix Technologies would shortly follow their lead, but soon "clone BIOSes" were available from many other companies who reverse engineered IBM's design, then sold their version to the PC clone manufacturers

    So without Microsoft, Compaq and IBM clones wouldn't exist. What about Dell?

    Dell traces its origins to 1984, when Michael Dell created PCs Limited while a student at the University of Texas at Austin. The dorm-room headquartered company sold IBM PC-compatible computers built from stock components.[7] Dell dropped out of school in order to focus full-time on his fledgling business, after getting about $300,000 in expansion-capital from his family.

    In 1985, the company produced the first computer of its own design, the "Turbo PC", which sold for US$795.[8] PCs Limited advertised its systems in national computer magazines for sale directly to consumers and custom assembled each ordered unit according to a selection of options. The company grossed more than $73 million in its first year of operation.

    The company changed its name to "Dell Computer Corporation" in 1988 and began expanding globally. In June 1988, Dell's market capitalization grew by $30 million to $80 million from its June 22 initial public offering of 3.5 million shares at $8.50 a share.[9] In 1992, Fortune magazine included Dell Computer Corporation in its list of the world's 500 largest companies, making Michael Dell the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company ever.[10]

    To get back to your analogy, the frog became a Fortune 500 company thanks to the scorpion. Cry me a fucking river.

    What about HTC, the big maker of Android phones? Another poor frog, right?

    HTC was founded in 1997 by Cher Wang, HT Cho, and Peter Chou.[6] Initially a manufacturer of notebook computers, HTC began designing some of the world's first touch and wireless hand-held devices in 1998.[7] The company has a rich heritage of many "firsts", including creating the first Microsoft-powered smartphone (2002) and the first Microsoft 3G phone (2005).[6] Their first major product was made in 2000 and was one of the world's first touch screen smartphones.

    Not to mention the fact that all this lead to prices going from about $5000 each to a very decent machine for $500 and made them affordable to the masses including the 3rd world leading to the PC and internet revolutions which everyone is reaping the benefits of(Including Apple which switched to x86 to drive down costs). If you think Apple hardware is exp

  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:15AM (#40411875)
    How many consoles have been returned for service? And how financially successful has Xbox 360 been? Objectively, 33+% return rate is a hardware fiasco. Objectively, not breaking even after 9 years is a financial failure. It's only now starting to be in the black quarterly. If Xbox was a separate company, it would have had to declare bankruptcy. Other companies like NEC and Sega gave up console divisions because it wasn't financially successful.
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:15AM (#40411885) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft was on of the first to the party. It is just that they sucked. I wish people would get a grip on this. Windows Phone 7 was not their first version of their phone OS! Microsoft was pushing Windows Mobile for many version before the rebranding and new UI! I am not even a hard core Microsoft hater. Windows 7 didn't suck, Microsoft Flight Simulator rocks, the XBox 360 is a great consol and has made them a pile of money. Windows Phone is a disaster.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:18AM (#40411939) Homepage

    The only problem with that is that Microsoft simply isn't capable. Matching "the best moves of Apple" is simply something they aren't capable of. It's something they've never done. They milk entrenchment. They drag their feet. They put the least amount of effort they can get away with. They play it safe like an accountant running a movie studio.

    They are out of their league if they want to go toe to toe with Apple based on purely technical merits.

    Apple may be annoying and evil but at least they have the engineering talent.

  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:32AM (#40412155)

    That is not true at all. Many devices ship with non-Google-approved hacked-up versions of Android - and they didn't pay Google a dime. The Kindle Fire is an enormously successful example.

  • Re:Survival (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheMiddleRoad ( 1153113 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:37AM (#40412201)

    Well, I saw the Surface with the keyboard and went, "Hmm?" Then I saw that it was ARM and went, "Harumph!" Then I saw that it would come with an i5 and I went, "Oh!" If it's fast and can do video out, there's a good chance I'll buy one.

  • Re:Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pope ( 17780 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:38AM (#40412223)

    And yet Microsoft still hasn't learned the important lessons: 1) when you announce your breakthrough product(s), it's available TODAY (or next week), and here's the PRICE. 2) You can go outside and play with it for 10 or 20 minutes right after this announcement.

    What did we get from MS? "Here are two things we made, they won't be able to run the same programs, we're not going to really demo any of it, we won't tell you the price, we won't tell you when it's shipping, and none of you here get to play with it." It was a fucking amateur production from start to finish.

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:41AM (#40412263) Journal
    They don't have the margins to make big bold bets.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:42AM (#40412289) Homepage Journal

    The 302 and 350 cubic inch V8s (5 & 5.7 litres respectively) were far more common than the 400s or 427s. Your point still stands IMO. Though the double-whammy of fuel prices and increased safety standards didn't help Detroit out either.

    True, 289, 327, 330, 351, etc. were common, but the flagships were driven by 454 (Chevy), 455 Olds, 430 (Buick), 400, 429 (Ford), 500.1 (Cadillac). Such focus on multi cores and large memory resources to hand the shear bloat of operating system and applications -- if it weren't for an operating system which tries so hard to be all and do all, the market would have been more focused upon lower current draw / tighter code / better peformance, but all Microsoft and their buddies were doing were selling us more demand upon resources. That's fine, if your work requires massive resources, but many people don't. With the web and a few apps some people get everything done without needing a big machine.

    It's entertaining, in some ways, but sad in others. I'm sure someone at IBM is looking at Microsoft, in light of how the PC eclipsed the mainframe, and thinking "Didn't see it coming, did you?"

  • by a90Tj2P7 ( 1533853 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:43AM (#40412307)

    Now the war is in full swing between Google and Apple, which have trampled the laptop and desktop markets

    Portable devices have more or less supplemented laptops and desktops, they really haven't made any big dent towards replacing them, let alone "trample" them. They've taken more away from the mobile phone market than desktop computing.

  • Re:Survival (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:07PM (#40412643)

    MS could always point at the OEM and claim the problem is with the hardware.

    Do you blame bad drivers for the BSOD? No, you blame Windows. Do you blame Dell or Gateway for a slow machine? No, you blame Windows.

    Microsoft already has the ire of the users. They have nothing to lose by setting a gold standard for others to follow. If the Asus Windows 8 tablet crashes periodically, they can point to their own and say, ours is fine. If the Dell Windows 8 tablet comes with 8 layers of crapware and runs like a 486, Microsoft can show people that's not Window 8's fault.

    There's two legal concerns here: Class action lawsuits and an anti-trust lawsuit. Microsoft isn't the dominant player in the tablet market, but they are in the laptop market, and this crossover device may appear to allow them to leverage their laptop dominance to enter the tablet market. But if they played their cards right internally, and they separated the OS and hardware development properly, then this isn't a concern.

    As for class action lawsuits, they've always been named in them, OEM or not. I don't think they're dumb enough to market this as a 4G tablet or put out units that are defective in some way that would draw such a lawsuit. And if they are, the product's failed already, because it would've not been able to deliver the same experience that Apple delivers with the iPad. So that probably isn't a concern for them.

    As for an operational standpoint, I think the other replies have addressed it sufficiently. They already have the infrastructure to handle customer requests directly. In fact, considering they discontinued the Zune, they probably have more capacity than they need. It's then a matter of training.

  • by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 ) <> on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:34PM (#40413063) Journal

    See, that's just it, everyone keeps saying that Win 7 doesn't exactly do anything spectacular that WinXP didn't, except for its re-architected security. (Vista being the Giant Bluff Beta).

    So now that they're moving away from the Aero Shiny thing, why can't they use one of these iteration rounds to really drill down the code, under the hood, and make it absolutely sizzle? Portions of the conversation keep floating around Laptop vs Tablet but there shouldn't be any differences! A Tablet should just be the Final Generation of a Laptop, with solid state memory instead of the spinning drive, and other improvements. Then you make Metro and Classic (Windows Explorer) be alternating interfaces to the same back end code. There really isn't a reason one tablet-sized machine can't do both. You dock the thing in an office to a big screen and "do work", then you undock it to play Angry Birds and read the NY Times (Your Media May Vary) at home. Then Mom checks her email.

  • by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 ) <> on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:38PM (#40413117) Journal

    I'll repeat a shorter version of my theme to you.

    There's gonna come a time when they're almost all the same, except phones. "Desktop" = "Portable In a Dock to a screen".

    They're struggling a little on Moore's law this generation, but one good boost of game changing technology will kick it all back into overdrive.

    You see the first hints of it in the All In One Screen-Computers.

  • by ebuck ( 585470 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:38PM (#40413119)

    They don't have the margins to make big bold bets.

    True, but that is in part due to not having the obsene amounts of cash that rolls in when a big bold bet pays off.

    Apple has shown that there are so few people willing to make the bets, that they can safely win about 70% of the time. The payoff seems high enough to cover the few misses (AppleTV), which is why Apple is now has a market capitalization of twice Microsoft, fourteen times HP, and twentyeight times Dell.

    HP and Dell made the obscene amounts of cash on big bold bets, that's how they came to be. The friuts of their prior successes, like all fruits, don't keep forever.

    HP comes to market too slowly, and kills great products before the public can get excited about them. Dell has streamlined manufacturing and custom orderability enough that it is hard to imagine buying a computer without a Dell like experience.

    The real question is, what has HP and Dell done lately?

  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:46PM (#40413237)

    That's pretty much it.

    Microsofts business model for years was to build software that could run on a wide variety of hardware. They'd do some mock up non commercial things to show off concepts, and then leave it up to all of the 3rd party teams to either develop their own ideas, or to pick up on microsofts ideas and role with it.

    And that's why we've all been using mTablets since 2000, because Bill Gates told us tablets were the future in 2000, with a half decent demo in 2002 of something that I think was even keyboardless (in the MS parlance that made it a slate).

    Now here's the strange part. I've had tablets (convertible tablets) since 2005. Toshiba, HP. The latter has working touch on it, but the virtual keyboard input was always shitty, given that it was connected to a keyboard already that's not a huge surprise. So microsoft and partners *could* have had the iPad equivalent as early as 2003. And didn't, unless they didn't get touch working nicely until 2008. But either way, the manufacturers didn't innovate.

    Surface is microsoft trying to either give their manufacturers a swift kick in the arse and shame them into doing something. Or its microsoft deciding that it can't rely on the manufacturers anymore, and it's going to do it itself (think xbox). A microsoft equivalent of the google nexus line of thinking is actually really compelling. Not so much because I'd want to buy one, but because it might make everyone else wake up and start making things worth buying.

  • I disagree... But (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LostMyBeaver ( 1226054 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:54PM (#40413331)
    This is slashdot. We all know better than everyone else, therefore without senseless disagreement in the forums, the site would fail to exist.

    The reasonI disagree is because I feel the lack of demand for Windows Phone is more because the only companies who make them have long histories of lack of commitment to their phones. Nokia made a fortune for decades by selling new phones when a feature could have been adde through an update, but because software updates are free to the consumer, they sold new phones instead. Having been a developer on Nokia phones for years, I can say even the developers often couldn't update the phones without a JTAG cable and sometimes soldering on wires to connect it.

    Samsung and LG have dipped their toes in te water, but their commitment is half assed. HTC... Don't make me laugh. They toss the OS on the phone, load it up with crapware, ship it and say screw it.

    Apple changed the way we perceive phones. If Nokia had adopted Android as opposed to Windows Phone, they'd have released 10 new Android phones back to back and screwed all their users from version to version and Android would have sucked instead.

    Apple's success wasn't entirely because of iOS. It was very much about the commitment to the actual platform. They provided an operating system, tools, PC and Mac software which was good (unlike Android sync crap and Zune) and then gave content distributors a reason to hype their product for them too.

    Android would have been screwed if Samsung didn't try to duplicate the iPhone experience by committing to a small number of variations of the device which were each maintained for long periods. People like to know their phones will have all the cool features for a year or two after they buy them.

    Also, Apple and Samsung focused less on tech (let's face it, you can getter better tech elsewhere) and instead focused on style. Nokia makes a crap phone that only people in poor parts of Asia and the Eastern Block would think looks cool. LG and Samsung's Windows Phones look like utility bricks. And HTC... Well... Looks like HTC. Dell tried and ended up making something which looks like "The Budget Windows Phone".

    If Microsoft wants Windows Phone to succeed (and Windows 8 tablets), try have to try and make one device a year with NO focus on the underlying tech and a huge focus on the overall experience. It has to be snappy, easy and sexy. Sell the features and style, not the tech.

    I hope they polish Metro or made it djinn able enough so others can. Metro is amazing, but it needs some more sex appear to work. The start screen is either too busy or busy in a non-astheticly pleasing way. But it works so damn well it's forgivable. Additionally, when using Metro split-screen, the splitter bar is too wide or maybe chunky. It gives it a kindergarten or preschoolish feel. App design using existing controls is troublesome since drill down entry is hard to work out in the screen format the way they did it. Classic Windows desktop doesn't integrate as well in split screen as it should.

    I think the fatal flaw of Surface is that they didn't make one or the other. They should have made x86 only (Windows RT is lame... No classic desktop apps and no visual studio on device... So development sucks for it) and they should have made a ultra and a lite version of it. Core i3 ULV with 8" screen and Core i5 with 10" or 11".

    I will buy one of each of the surface tablets anyway, but I don't like that it seems too PCish. Specs don't really matter. Functionality and price are all that matters
  • Re:Zune 2.0 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @01:50PM (#40414097)

    Speaking of Zune and iPod ... have you seen this parody that was created internally by Microsoft?

    Microsoft Designs the IPOD package []

    It sums up "Why Microsoft Just. Doesn't. Get it." (With apologies to Shatner's / Kirk's stutter.)

    Ironically it was made by Microsoft! Googleï for these words: "Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla on Tuesday confirmed with iPod Observer that his company initiated the creation of the iPod packaging parody"

We all like praise, but a hike in our pay is the best kind of ways.