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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 @10:10AM (#40411015)

    *** Announcement project***
    ***to be distributed to all OEM guys.***

    Hey guys, we're going to try ruin you again in 3
    ( ) years
    ( ) months
    () days
    Please select the right choice, boss.
    Marketing Slime Department

    • 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...?

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

      • 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.

        • 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.

      • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:12AM (#40411837)

        Innovating? I think many of the partners are just now getting over the royal screwing they got with the Vista.

        Vista was late. MS changed things constantly and at the last minute. One change that hurt the OEMs was the whole Vista Compatible/Ready fiasco where MS included Intel graphics as Vista acceptable very late when they told OEMs that it would not be. HP was thoroughly pissed as they had planned their hardware around this. To put into context why this screwed over HP, let's delve into it. In planning for Vista which would not include Intel graphics at the time (915 chipset I think), HP would have to order the more expensive 945 from Intel or go with discrete. That would be more expensive but HP had planned for that maybe a year in advance. All the sudden, MS changes direction and allows it but only as "Vista Ready" meaning it couldn't run Aero. That meant all the low cost OEMs suddenly could put out "Vista" PCs at a lower cost even though they could only run the basic version. That didn't matter to these OEMs as long as they got sales.

        • by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @01:14PM (#40413615)

          They acknowledged their mistake there. I believe they caved to Intel's request here, which in the post mortem, they said they shouldn't have. It not only made them unpopular with a lot of the higher-end OEMs, but it also was partially reponsible for the botched Vista release.

          This is a different move. I think the only ones really unhappy and complaining loudly are the cheap, low-cost OEMs. HP and Dell are probably secretly glad, because the higher-end stuff also come with higher margins (remember the race to the bottom that was netbooks?). Of course, they're probably a little bit upset that they now have a fairly high standard that they have to meet. But that's their own fault for thinking they can keep releasing crap into the market and the consumers will lap it up because there's no alternative out there.

      • 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 UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:48AM (#40412373)

          > Microsoft was on of the first to the party. It is just that they sucked.

          Sort-of correct. Microsoft had a tablet ("WinPad" in 1996 and a "MS Tablet PC" in 2000 at Comdex ) and phone ("Pocket PC" in 2000) long before Apple (2010 iPad and 2007 iPhone, respectively; technically Apple had the Newton in 1987 so they were first but we all know how that turned out), yet sales of Apple's hardware blows Microsoft's out of the water? Why is that? (i.e. Why do non-geeks prefer a iPhone / iPad?. Where is the MS Zune now?)

          You mentioned "It is just that they sucked." In business it is ok "to suck", you just have to "suck less then the competition."

          Microsoft continues to fail for the most part (with notable exceptions such as the ones you mentioned) because Microsoft doesn't have a fucking clue about consistent & responsive Hardware+Software+User Experience. Apple mastered "good enough" ages ago. Microsoft's "good enough" means inconsistency. It's attention to the details.

          * []
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          • Zune 2.0 (Score:5, Interesting)

            by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 ) <> on Friday June 22, 2012 @01:02PM (#40413447) Journal

            Wow, you're basically the only Non-AC guy who mentions Zune.

            That is the comparison I see the biggest here, except this time it's right in MS's home camp.

            Apple takes world by storm with iPod. MS Scrambles.

            They start with their usual "commodity" strategy and license 20 3rd party hardware makers with some cert specs and calls it "Plays For Sure". So far, so fine. Except Apple was on to something with the whole Integration thing, so generic makers aren't working this time. So then MS does a giant evil backstab and makes the Zune, switching from their classic biz style into a Me Too but minus the 5 years of secret R&D that Apple was doing. So it flopped.

            Apple crushed the phone market with the iPhone, and I'm a casualty. I had a Win Mobile 6 phone, and I hated it. It was an overgrown brick in my pocket. While I dislike some of Apple's snooping, the iPhone makes it easy to download apps and it doesn't auto ring by itself twice a day like the HTC phone did.

            So suddenly Apple figures out that Mac OS isn't actually going anywhere, but it has some good concepts. So they switch the game to Phone & Tablet, and suddenly Microsoft is panicking, after a 20+ year monopoly on Windows? They want to make their own hardware now? THAT has GOT to piss off the OEM network to no end.

            MS gave up ever influencing music, and washed their hands of it.

            But this one? This feels like a Bet the Farm move. Remind me to look up the news 4 years from now when the fake urgency wears off. But this feels different.

            • 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"

      • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:18AM (#40411933) Journal

        There wasn't anything innovative about the Windows CE / Pocket PC hardware even after generation after generation of devices. Devices would get a slightly faster CPU, or slightly better LCD panels, and that was it. It is my personal opinion that the capacitive method of touchscreen is what truly allowed the iPhone and following devices to succeed. The resistive touchscreen was a hardware limitation that could only support a single touch, did not register a touch when the screen was physically touched (and that makes all the difference in the world, see below), and suffered from accuracy / calibration issues. Microsoft could not create a UI that did not revolve around the stylus until those hardware limitations were overcome, and none of the OEMs had any motivation to invent new hardware that wouldn't even be utilized or accommodated by the OS.

        For example, let's say that Dell invented capacitive touch and wanted to put it in the Dell Axim line of Pocket PCs. So they contact Microsoft and told them of this amazing new touch capability. Do you think Microsoft would then completely throw out their stylus based GUI and embrace the new technology, leaving HP, Casio, Asus and other Pocket PC manufactures totally in the dark? Both Microsoft and the OEMs were crippled in their own ways by relying on the other to make advances. It becomes a "chicken or the egg" first kind of problem.

        Now about touch screens. The problem with using fingers on resistive touchscreens is that you can physically touch the screen, but not press hard enough for it to register. So there was no correlation between sensory reception and interacting with the device. With capacitive touch it can be tuned such that the moment you physically contact the screen (and thus "feel" you touched the screen) a touch will register. That subtlety makes all the difference in the world. Anyone who spent much time using resistive touch, and trying to use it without a stylus (playing games, using 3rd party "touch based" keyboards etc) knows what I'm talking about. My thumbs would be very sore after a gaming session from pushing the screen extra hard to make sure it registered my presses.

      • Perhaps it is because the market has been resistant as all hell to moving past Windows XP because a) it worked; b) Vista didn't and cost MS all of its vendor street cred; c) Windows 7 wouldn't run on legacy hardware. At least not unlike a pig; d) legacy software wouldn't always run on Vista or 7 and not all vendors updated their software so that it would (or charged money for the update); the PC market grew suddenly enormously soggy as the desktop market evaporated, laptops became the new desktop (and got
      • 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
  • 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

    • 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:13AM (#40411057)

    They have counterparties.

  • by kelarius ( 947816 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:14AM (#40411061)
    Remember what happened the last time Microsoft tried to compete with Apple hardware by themselves. I predict this hitting the market with the giant *THUD* usually associated with MS products.
  • 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 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 UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:15PM (#40412755)

        > Apple has always gained value from controlling the software and the hardware.

        Yup, they learnt this lesson back in the late '70's with the Apple ][ floppy disc drive / controller. Summarizing the fascinating read:

        IBM engineers had invented the 8-inch floppy disk in 1971, and over the next two years gradually increased its capacity from 80K to nearly 240K. Alan Shugart, an IBM manager, left that company and formed his own in 1973. ... The company went on to design and market the SA400 âoeminifloppyâ drive that same year, with a formatted capacity of 90K

        Steve Jobs had been visiting the Shugart offices regularly, insisting that he needed a cheap $100 disk drive. After Wozniak figured out the details of how to control a disk drive, Jobs came back and said that not only did he want a cheap disk drive, he wanted just the mechanism; no read/write electronics, no head load solenoid, no track zero sensor and no index hole sensor.

        Following the Consumer Electronics Show, Wozniak set out to complete the design of the Disk II. His original task on the disk controller was to reduce the chip count from the 40 chips used on the controllers for S-100 machines. ... Beyond that, he made additional design changes that reduced the total chip count to only nine. This eventually reduced further to eight, since two 555 timers were replaced by a single 556 timer.

        The Disk II was finally available in July 1978 with the first full version of DOS, 3.1. It had an introductory price of $495 (including the controller card) if you ordered them before Apple had them in stock; otherwise, the price would be $595. Even at that price, however, it was the least expensive floppy disk drive ever sold by a computer company. ... Because of the custom hardware and software Apple created to manage and access the disks, they had a formatted capacity of 113K, 23K more than the capacity offered by Shugart.

        The resulting product, the Disk II, was almost obscenely profitable: For about $140 in parts ($80 after the shift to Alps) [not counting labor costs], Apple could package a disk drive and a disk controller in a single box that sold at retail for upwards of $495.

    • 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 oconnorcjo ( 242077 ) * on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:18AM (#40411099) Journal
    This is MS's way of reminding other companies that a partnership with Microsoft is merily a list of companies that MS can label as suckers.
  • Doesn't matter... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:21AM (#40411133) way or the other. People who want the sleekest looking tablet or phone will go for the iPhone or iPad, and people who want the average market 'just gets the job done' will get Androids. MS is trying to position itself in Apple's space, and in this battle, will lose badly, since it's beauty that's going to win in the end.

    The only thing MS could have done to differentiate itself would have been to make Fusion or Medfield based tablets or phones that could have run some, if not most Windows apps. But by going w/ ARM, which is alien space for them, they've chosen to play on away turf, rather than on home grounds. Why would anyone prefer Windows RT or Windows Phone 8 to either Android or iOS, which has a long head-start over Windows here? This will be a repeat of NT on MIPS and PPC.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:22AM (#40411145)

    Microsoft's lockstep with OEMs has been the most irritating part of their existence to me, from the Windows Tax to the horrendous upcoming UEFI SecureBoot debacle. Hopefully this will split the hardware manufacturers enough so that I can buy some decent parts that have been made with priorities other than 'get the windows sticker.'

    • 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.

  • 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.
    • Re:Survival (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ISoldat53 ( 977164 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:33AM (#40411295)
      The problem is that now they are responsible to the end user. Before they had the OEM to shield them from the end user both legally and operationally. MS could always point at the OEM and claim the problem is with the hardware. During the leagal actions agains MS, they claimed they weren't culpable because they didn't sell the product to the end user the OEM or reseller did. This removes that layer of protection and allows class action against MS directly.
      • 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 :)
        • Making a console that hasn't really changed in 8 years and has had lots of hardware issues is a lot less difficult than making tablets where it needs to be updated every year at the least. Sourcing and supply chain logistics in themselves is hard much less manufacturing.
          • Making a console with a disastrously high return rate has trained Microsoft in how to manage hordes of angry hardware customers.
      • 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.

    • Re:Survival (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:46AM (#40411445)

      The open market's competition to Apple has been lame. I was given a $3500 gift certificate for a notebook PC (couldn't be a MacBook), and the best the market had to offer at the time was a Sony Vaio, I have been using it for 2 years, and a MacBook Air it is not. Even though the Sony wins in some specs, overall it feels cheap, it runs hotter than a MacBook Pro, and it was ungodly expensive. Most of the features it "wins" on paper (BluRay drive, killer speed & graphics) it loses in real life because they generate too much heat and noise to use comfortably. It's not just Sony that's been missing the mark.

      Surface is a very bold attempt to out Apple Apple, I can't say whether it will succeed or fail - I do look forward to the pricing announcements which will decide whether or not I get a Surface or dual booting Air when this Vaio finally bites the dust.

  • 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.

    • Selling a slightly inferior product is hardly stabbing someone in the back.

      Now, creating a competing product to one of your partners and not telling them until days before you go public with it... that's stabbing someone in the back. :P
    • 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.

  • 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 ( 1102617 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:31AM (#40411269)

    All the disappointed OEMs will be turning to Linux, making this year (yes, I promise this time is for real!) the Linux Desktop year.

    • great, the year of the linux desktop is the same year that the desktop has become irrelevant.

    • While we're playing Fantasy What If, the introduction of the steaming pile that is Metro might be just the impetus or excuse that they need.

      Heck, Unity is every bit as retarded as Metro. If you're going to switch away from a useful, familiar desktop to a retarded two-thumbs-and-Mr-pointy-finger idiom, you might as well drink Canonical's Kool-Aid.

  • by David_Hart ( 1184661 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:38AM (#40411345)

    The poor reporting around the recent Microsoft announcements is like chum to the anti-Microsoft sharks here at Slashdot.

    Microsoft announces a piece of hardware that is better than any of their hardware partners have offered EVER. Any yet, Microsoft is the "Bad Guy"?

    How is it that the "hardware specialists", who have had over 3 years to come up with an iPad clone, just can't get it done? At this point, the hardware vendors deserve what they get. They've proven that they either cannot, will not, or just simply refuse to invest in competing on quality. Blaming Microsoft for being a "bad partner" stretches credibility to the breaking point.

    • How is it that a bunch of vendors who are basically bound to a single, anti-competitive OS vendor who has shown a propensity for progressing only at a rate they approve of, and only so far as it keeps them on top, are supposed to create something incredibly "innovative?"

      At this point, the hardware vendors deserve what they get.

      Yeah, they went with Microsoft. Not that they really had any options.

      Blaming Microsoft for being a "bad partner" stretches credibility to the breaking point.

      Even when they've threaten

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • Re:Lockstep, my ass (Score:5, Informative)

      by hey_popey ( 1285712 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:54AM (#40411569)

      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.

      I am surprised by this part: last time I tried with a Win7 Pro laptop, I was able to use my own license number (the one on the sticker on the laptop case) with another Windows setup disc, without having to purchase a new license!

  • 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 Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie AT hotmail DOT com> on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:47AM (#40411475) Homepage

    While there are plenty of things I personally do not like about Windows 8 -- first and foremost Secure boot -- I still cannot help but feel that Microsoft's new direction will translate to various kinds of benefits for the general populace. Microsoft is now pushing for better integration of the hardware with the OS, for cleaner default installations and for innovation in the hardware, the only downside for the general populace being slightly higher prices on their new computers. One can hope that instead of rushing to the bottom the manufacturers will in the future try to focus on producing higher quality hardware and stop with their bloatware-installations and insanely crappy "feature software."(1) There are better ways of offering new software and getting people to buy stuff than just stuffing the computer full of pre-installed trialware, like e.g. why not ASK the user what kind of software they might need on their newly-installed device or what they plan on doing with it, and then OFFER to install trial-versions so they can try and see if the software does what they need?

    (1): a girlfriend just recently bought herself a new laptop from ASUS and I went there to help her set it up. Well, not surprisingly it was chock-full of all kinds of crapware, and ASUS's own software was actually the worst of all. One example of such software from ASUS is ASUS Update: it is nothing more than an application that checks ASUS's website for new driver releases for the laptop, but it is chock-full of spelling mistakes, it's dog-slow, it tries its god damn best to stick out of the desktop like a needle in the eye and so on. Heck, it was trying to install a 500 kilobyte update for 30 minutes before I got fed up with waiting, killed it and installed the update manually, which only took 3 seconds! Another thing I noticed was that the application kept one of the cores at 100% usage at all times, even when it was not doing anything, but when I minimized the application the CPU usage dropped to about 12%: looks like a rather clear case of the application just redrawing its own window all the time as fast as it can, with or without any reason whatsoever for that. It really baffles me how on Earth can ASUS think this is good for their image or for their customers.

  • by StripedCow ( 776465 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @10:56AM (#40411599)

    IIUC, this surface thing is just a laptop, with a stand to hold up the monitor?

  • Anybody know?

    Also... what term can we use now for gesture-based computing that isn't necessarily geared towards tablets? The term "surface computing" has been around for a while, but now I expect that term is going to just be too heavily associated with this particular mainstream product.. where at least with the old MS Surface, Microsoft could legitimately have made a claim to being the first one to commercialize a product that the term would get named for. Now calling something "surface computing" is just going to sound like people are trying to "microsoftize" an industry where there are already a number of other players.

  • The market changed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:03AM (#40411709)
    The market changed from Microsoft's old model of expensive software on cheap hardware to Apple's current model of free or inexpensive software on expensive hardware.

    In other words, Apple did not just facilitate the paradigm shift towards mobile devices, Apple changed the entire strategic fiscal structure of the market.

    Microsoft's hardware entourage had to be cut free. It would not be the first time Microsoft has left the decaying bodies of its partners behind, after sucking all the profits and life out of them.

  • The major Microsoft OEM's really don't have many other options. You can't OEM the Mac OS, and as much as we would all see a major linux distro get more widely adopted, that just not realistic. Especially in the corporate space.

    MS can piss off their OEM's to the Nth degree. They still need to sell MS products to move hardware.

    In other words, the OEM's need MS more than MS needs the OEM's. Especially now that they've shown (not proven) the ability to design and manufacturer a very decent Windows hardware platform.

  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:04AM (#40411733)
    Microsoft couldn't do this in the past because they were already defending themselves against charges of being a monopoly. Now that Apple has gained enough market share Microsoft is free to do whatever they want.
  • by Danzigism ( 881294 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:05AM (#40411741)
    There's no reason why OEMs should be scared or even feel threatened by this. Although I'm not a huge M$ supporter, they do this kind of stuff all the time. They layout a standard, show the OEMs, and then the vendors duplicate it and personalize it. There is still plenty of money to be made for OEMs that choose the Windows 8 platform for their devices. All companies like Acer and ASUS need to do is just release a tablet that actually comes with a digital ink stylus, or perhaps built-in mobile broadband support. Simply take the components that Microsoft hasn't included, and put it in yours instead. Tablets are innovating all the time so there's no reason to think of this as a threat. Consumers will continue to choose what they feel is right for them. If anything, a bold move like this will make vendors more confident in Microsoft's abilities and they'll stand by their side.
  • by ckhorne ( 940312 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @11:09AM (#40411787)

    "I have altered the deal. Pray that I do not alter it further"

  • 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.

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Circuit Breaker ( 114482 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:17PM (#40412789)

      > 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?

      Microsoft won't license out Kinect technology (which they did not even develop themselves, but rather got an exclusive license for from PrimeSense). Furthermore, at the same time they signed the deal, they bought the only other company to offer similar products (I think 3DVision, not sure about the name), and closed them. So they now own an exclusive license for one technology, and all the patents for a differently implemented technology.

      There is no way for anyone to integrate that functionality. And if I were microsoft, I'd buy LeapMotion tomorrow to make sure that stays true for the future.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:05PM (#40412613)
    never turned on a partner before? As many others have stated, Microsoft is a company for profits and nothing stops them from doing what they decide is their direction to get those profits. laws or no laws, contracts or no contracts and surely nothing like how long you have been a partner matters.

    The story here is not who was not told or how surprised they were, it's what they plan to do now they know they signed those exclusive contracts and now got burned by Microsoft themselves.

  • by Infiniti2000 ( 1720222 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:15PM (#40412753)

    From TFA: "Car analogies might be overdone"

    The fucking hell you say!

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday June 22, 2012 @12:39PM (#40413131)

    ... is incorporated in slaughterhouses. The design of the entrance is such that the cattle entering are kept calm and unaware of their impeding fate until its too late.

    It keeps them from stampeding. Or switching to Linux.

Man will never fly. Space travel is merely a dream. All aspirin is alike.