While Americans were shooting off fireworks (or shotguns) in their driveways on Wednesday, Acer founder Stan Shih was firing off comments about Microsoft entering the tablet business first-hand... again. Apparently he's still not thrilled with the Windows giant entering the hardware sector, and rightfully so: Microsoft essentially has become its chief competitor when it comes to Windows 8-based gadgets.
"I think Microsoft's getting involved in the hardware business is designed to promote its Windows 8 [operating system]," he said, echoing a similar comment made back in June. "But I sincerely recommend they withdraw from the hardware market when they get what they want."
Shih went on to say that Microsoft shouldn't be competing with hardware manufacturers who are also their business partners. "I think they will consider and decide the best solution for themselves," he said.
Shih made his comments while speaking about a sluggish personal computer sector that has been impacted by the growing tablet market over the last several years. Yet despite the competitive form factor, Shih stressed that Acer's laptops will still have their place on the market even though tablets are biting into laptop sales as well.
"For students, laptops with keyboards will still be the best choice," Shih said.
Shih's comments about Microsoft arrive after Bill Gates backed the company's plans to produce its own Windows 8 tablets earlier this week. "I actually believe you can have the best of both worlds," he said during an interview with Charlie Rose Monday night. "You can have a rich eco-system of manufacturers and you can have a few signature devices that show off, wow, what's the difference between a tablet and a PC?"
As previously reported, Surface will arrive in two flavors: x86-based featuring Windows 8 Pro, and ARM-based using Windows RT. It will feature a unique cover that also serves as a super-thin keyboard, and go head to head with other Windows 8 tablets manufactured by HP, Dell, Asus, Lenovo and others. Yet due to the keyboard peripheral, consumers may opt out of a notebook and go with the Surface tablet instead -- a factor that Acer's Shih likely dreads.
But many partners are reportedly bailing out of the Windows RT boat, one of which is HP who confirmed rumors at the end of June. "The decision to go with x86 was influenced by input from our customers," HP spokesperson Marlene Somsak wrote in an e-mail to Bloomberg. "The robust and established ecosystem of x86 applications provides the best customer experience at this time and in the immediate future."
Previously sources indicated that a "whole flock" of formerly close Microsoft partners are looking at Google's Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" as their new best friend. Most are currently debating on whether it will be worth their time to develop Windows RT tablets.
Both Microsoft and Google are producing first-party devices in order to tackle Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle Fire. While the former device created the tablet sector, the latter created the low-cost $199 tablet segment that briefly posed a problem for Apple at the beginning of the year. Now there are rumors that Apple is gearing up to release its own 7-inch tablet in order to control that market as well.
Is the quest for taking down Apple gotten out of hand? Has it damaged the relationship between 1st-party software developers Google and Microsoft, and their hardware partners? Acer seems a little bitter, so it seems likely that others feel the same -- they're just not quite as vocal.