updated 05:36 pm EDT, Wed June 20, 2012
Manufacturing partners kept in dark until just before release
Microsoft's long-time manufacturing partners were kept out of the loop on the company's plans to introduce its new Surface tablets, and a few of those partners are saying the software giant should remain a software giant. Speaking with Reuters, unnamed representatives from within some of Microsoft's manufacturing partners have expressed concern that the company is now moving into the hardware business in a big way.
When Microsoft pulled back the curtain on its two new Surface tablets, the company completed a feat of secrecy uncommon for most consumer electronics, with nary a mention of a Microsoft-branded tablet emerging before the company announced the event for the device on the Friday before its unveiling.
Microsoft was so thorough in its secrecy that the company kept its hardware plans from its manufacturing partners until that same Friday, when Windows chief Steven Sinofsky made a round of calls to the larger hardware manufacturers, giving them scant details on that Monday's announcement.
Comparatively smaller PC manufacturers, such as Acer and Asustek, weren't alerted to Microsoft's plans until they heard the news reported from the Surface conference.
Microsoft's secrecy may not be so much of a problem for its manufacturing partners as is the company's actual entry into the computer hardware market. PC manufacturers now find themselves in the awkward position of competing against the very company that provides them with the software that powers their devices, much in the same way that Samsung and other mobile manufacturers fear they may have to compete with and depend on Google following its acquisition of Motorola Mobility.
So far, Microsoft's hardware partners have expressed confidence both in Microsoft and Windows 8. Larger companies like Dell and HP have stated that they will still be releasing Windows 8 devices when the new OS launches. Still, behind closed doors, representatives of some companies are grumbling, feeling betrayed by Microsoft and apprehensive depending on a deep-pocketed competitor.