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Report: Microsoft Kept Surface a Secret from Partners

When rumors of a Microsoft tablet first started doing the rounds, one of the bigger arguments against the idea was that Microsoft was a software company with a healthy pool of hardware partners. How could it snub its partners by coming out with its own hardware? As you might have noticed, Microsoft did just that -- the company announced two Windows 8 tablets earlier this week, one based on Intel technology and another based on ARM and running Windows RT.

In the aftermath of Microsoft's announcement, talk has turned to how Microsoft broke the news to partners that it was working on its own device. According to some reports, Redmond didn't actually tell its partners until the tablet was finished and ready to be unveiled. Reuters is reporting that Microsoft kept its hardware partners in the dark until as late as Friday, just a couple of days prior to its mystery event in LA. The news outlet cites people with knowledge of the matter that say Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky made a round of telephone calls to partners on Friday afternoon but didn't give away much. Reuters' source says Sinofsky didn't reveal specs or the name, giving partners only the barest of details.

The fact that Microsoft has decided to take things into its own hands when it comes to tablets speaks volumes about the company's ambitions for Windows 8 in the tablet sector. Redmond is obviously eager to see the Windows 8 tablet done right and the Surface could be seen as Microsoft's attempt to lead by example.

Numerous companies have plans for ultrabooks or convertible devices based on Windows 8. These devices will be released towards the end of the year, when Windows 8 is released and around the same time as Microsoft's own Surface devices.

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  • vic20
    "The fact that Microsoft has decided to take things into its own hands when it comes to tablets speaks volumes about the company's ambitions "

    No. It speaks volumes as to how its hardware partners have been dropping the ball since the release of the iPad.

    There. Fixed that for you.
    Reply
  • soo-nah-mee
    Unless the price of Ultrabooks come down quite a bit, I'm not sure how they can compete with the x86 version of the Surface. It looks like the x86 Surface is everything an Ultrabook is with the addition of a touchscreen and the ability to use it as an "undocked" slate. Intel is probably okay with that since the Surface is supposed to have an i5, but I imagine the Ultrabook manufacturers are going to be a bit screwed.
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    Good on Microsoft, vendors have done a piss-poor job of producing quality alternative, so far all we have after 3 versions of iPad is a competition based on a slew of identical Android tablets made of cheap plastic
    ...
    Remember the old saying "if you want something doing properly, do it yourself"
    Reply
  • ethanolson
    Microsoft was showing that hardware makers like Dell don't know how to design awesome stuff as well as they do. That's a sad bit of news to break, but it had to be heard. Microsoft, you're awesome and I applaud your bold effort. I'm totally buying one of each of these! I hope you sell a hundred million of these things.
    Reply
  • chomlee
    Microsoft has a potential winner here but, I have said this before in other posts, they have to come down to a realistic price for the windows 8 software in order to get everyone to "buy" into the full integration experience. Once they get a good market share for the tablets/phones and everyone has them linked to their computer, they can then reap the benefits of their marketplace. I don't know the details about apple, but I think a big chunk of money comes from the app purchases (not to mention the itunes purchases).
    Reply
  • Intel is probably pissed that they chose ARM over its own Medfield design.
    Reply
  • Osmin
    To compete with Apple, Intel had to invest millions to produce an UltraBook reference design. Microsoft had a choice to either create a reference design or build a tablet themselves. They took the latter approach that will alienate the independent manufacturers. They could have submitted a reference design and build a clone under the Microsoft name.
    Reply
  • chomlee
    Another note I would like to mention about why the other companies havent done a good job. One of the biggest problems early on for the tablets competing with the Ipad is that they were not as good and much more expensive. Apple was able to charge a resonable price of $499 for a low end tablet which gave them a foot in the door in the market. Since they were cheap, many people that were going to buy them went ahead and paid extra for the 32GB/64GB or 3G models. If the lower end model was never even there, many people wouldn't have been interested (even though they got the upgraded version anyhow). It is a very slick style of marketing. Also, because Apple had a vested interest in the apple store, they could afford to sell the tablets with lower profits and make it up with app purchases. All the hardware manufacturers only make money on the device itself and because people want a device with an SD card slot, there isn't much of a market for a device with more memory (people might pay a little more but not $100 for 16 Gig).
    Reply
  • freggo
    back_by_demandGood on Microsoft, vendors have done a piss-poor job of producing quality alternative, so far all we have after 3 versions of iPad is a competition based on a slew of identical Android tablets made of cheap plastic...Remember the old saying "if you want something doing properly, do it yourself"

    I don't know, but I think so far the Hardware was always better than the Operating System that Microsoft put on it. If the Tables is as good as the various versions of Windows.... uh, no thanks guys.

    Reply
  • apone
    @ vic20

    Yeah I agree but Microsoft’s apparent deception is also a good business strategy. “All war is based on deception. “ – The Art of War by Sun Tzu
    Reply