If rumors are true, then Microsoft may have just created a few enemies with the introduction of the Surface tablet last week. Sources have told SemiAccurate 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 while Hewlett Packard, Microsoft's biggest OEM, is bailing out altogether.
SemiAccurate paints a dark strategy implemented by Microsoft which paves the way for the supposed OEM rebellion. "Microsoft handcuffed both ARM chipmakers and OEMs with their brilliant two device per chipmaker strategy," the report describes. "Then, they ‘worked closely’ with all the OEMs, ‘helping’ them with their designs. As soon as those designs were essentially finalized, Microsoft did their own device that paid homage to their OEMs most innovative features. It is also a direct competitor to those OEMs, and was designed knowing exactly where their weaknesses were."
The article points out that Microsoft isn't bound by the same restrictions it imposes on OEMs, squashing any possible competition posed by Windows RT partners. The company also increased the price of Windows RT licenses with a "questionably legal monopolistic bundle" to around 3 times that it requires OEMs to pay for the x86 version of Windows 8. Because of these two factors, OEMs can't seemingly compete in the Windows RT arena.
As previously stated, HP and its Qualcomm-based Windows RT machines are supposedly the first to bail. Other industry rumors claim that Windows RT partners are canning one or more designs in light of the Surface reveal last week, and are scraping up every bit of resource they can to renew their Android efforts. This move is likely fueled by Android 4.1's big reveal this week at Google I/O which sports features like the Chrome browser (HTML5 apps?) and Google Now, Siri's new competitor.
"Microsoft’s incompetent management and Apple envy earned the enmity of their largest partner, and others are following closely," SemiAccurate writes. "Like we said, game over for Windows RT."
Is that as bit harsh, or dead on the money? The fact that Microsoft kept Surface a secret until the very last moment should speak volumes about the company's current relationship with OEMs. As for HP bailing out of Windows RT, given the company's rocky status, the gadget may never have been at the forefront of its plans to begin with.
UPDATE: HP confirmed that it has put its Windows RT plans on hold. "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.”