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Under the Surface: Windows OEMs say Microsoft spied on their products while developing a tablet in secret

Posted: , by Scott H.

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Under the Surface: Windows OEMs say Microsoft spied on their products while developing a tablet in secret
Has Microsoft alienated some of its Windows OEMs with the announcement of Surface? As impressive as Microsoft’s Surface announcement was, questions came up that very night as to what impact it would have on the Windows ecosystem. Acer has already gone on record criticizing Microsoft's for their shift in strategy, and now Forbes is reporting that not only were Windows OEMs in the dark until shortly before the announcement, but Microsoft apparently took advantage of their relationships to get a good look at all of the Windows tablets in development before deciding to go ahead with the final Surface announcement.

PC OEM consultant Patrick Moorhead spoke with several Windows hardware vendors, and they are apparently not pleased at all. According to Moorhead:

“Privately, PC OEMs are enraged about Surface, and not necessarily why you may think. Sure, they are angry that their partner is now their competitor, but they are angrier about the way Microsoft did it. It gets back to Microsoft’s access to OEM tablet designs. I am told Microsoft had early access to OEM’s Windows 8 physical designs, so they reportedly knew exactly what OEMs were to launch. Apparently, a few weeks ago I am told, Microsoft held executive- level reviews with Windows 8 tablet OEMs to get even further details on OEM launch and marketing plans and pricing. Then a few weeks afterward, the Surface launch occurred which to most industry observers looked professional, but rushed.”

Think about that for a second – Windows OEMs, already smarting from the lack of touch-based updates on Windows 7 (not to mention the sales that were lost after Windows Vista bombed), just found out that not only is Microsoft becoming a competitor, but they used their position as software vendor to peak at everyone’s devices (not once, but twice). And then they turned around and announced a product they had clearly been developing the whole time in secret. What sort of precedent does that set for your new “competitor”?

What will be the result of all this unrest? Ultimately, if the Windows 8/RT/WP ecosystem takes off and there is money to be made, Windows OEMs will continue to make Windows products, although it’s likely that they will no longer share their hardware designs with Microsoft in advance. This might actually lead to Microsoft having to adopt the Nexus-like approach that Google has with Android, creating a hero machine that sort of “shows OEMs how it’s done”, since manufacturers are unlikely to partner with Microsoft during development the same way they have in the past.

If the new Windows ecosystem isn’t a smashing success, however, it could have more serious ramifications. According to Moorhead, many of the OEMs he spoke to now plan to double down on Chromebooks and Android devices to hedge their bets against Microsoft. If Windows 8 flounders in the market there will be less reason to stick around in an ecosystem that is changing rapidly and is suddenly a lot less inviting than it was for the past decade. Google gives away their operating systems, they don’t compete at all with Chrome OS manufacturers, and their new multi-vendor Nexus strategy seems tailor-made to ease the minds of OEMs over their acquisition of Motorola.

Google will still have to walk a tightrope of its own if it’s going to court OEMs that feel jilted by Microsoft, and they will also have to demonstrate that Android tablets and/or Chromebooks can be a market success before a mass exodus could materialize. But at the least we imagine that Windows OEMs may be very interested in what gets announced at Google I/O this week.

source: Forbes via Cnet

51 Comments
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posted on 26 Jun 2012, 20:31 4

1. wendygarett (unregistered)


I will make a decision after the launch of nexus tablet

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 00:28 5

34. denied911 (banned) (Posts: 361; Member since: 31 May 2012)


they say what super windows rt is
I say free os and F*** M$ restrictions

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 00:54 2

35. JSern (Posts: 282; Member since: 22 May 2011)


you must be new here

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 20:34 6

2. theBankRobber (Posts: 649; Member since: 22 Sep 2011)


How shameful.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 22:03 4

13. Birds (Posts: 1029; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)


I understand the fact that competition is everything but double crossing is just wrong. When you own an open source operating system and OEMs are courteous enough to lend you pre-production models of their beloved products and the open source operating system owner turns around and reverse engineers there OEM partners products so you can build the ultimate product is just wrong.....Well reading over what I just stated, I don't think so anymore. But I have a question. Wouldn't this only be with windows slate devices? I just can't see how they can bee so ruthless about a PC when OEMs generally make great PCs or even cellphones because all the windows phone 7 devices seldom got reviews lower than a 7. Can some one explain it because this is stomping me.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 23:39

24. sprockkets (Posts: 1365; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


But not unexpected. Just walk down memory lane with "partners" like IBM or DEC. Or Apple with Office.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 00:55 5

36. JSern (Posts: 282; Member since: 22 May 2011)


Just like Android copied Symbian's notification board

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 06:35 1

46. Non_Sequitur (Posts: 1111; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)


Just like Symbian is f**king dead now. :)

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 20:40 4

3. BuckeyeCadet86 (Posts: 68; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


Didn't Microsoft do something similar with Apple and the Mac when Windows originally launched? I'm not sure why everyone is surprised. Microsoft - if you make a quality tablet I will buy it, I don't care where the ideas came from.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 20:41 10

5. networkdood (Posts: 6327; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


Apple and Microsoft are really not much different from each other.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 00:15 6

28. haseebzahid (Posts: 1836; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


except for the FACT Apple is much greedy and dont even release its software to others and work on full profit

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 23:41

25. sprockkets (Posts: 1365; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


Would you refuse to buy apple products for the crap they pull on android OEMs but not for MS for how they were convicted for abusing their monopoly?

I don't give them a dime to support their BS.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 02:34 4

39. maverick786us (Posts: 134; Member since: 20 Apr 2012)


Both Apple and Microsoft are "Pirates of Silicon Valley"

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 20:40 2

4. networkdood (Posts: 6327; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)


What? Did you think you could trust microsoft? The company with the swiss cheese OS and crappy internet browser?

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 20:56 6

6. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Wow, Microsoft. What a s**tty move.

Give me a fully functional Android laptop, with DVD drive, a fast processor, and large hard drive, and I'll be done with Windows for good.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 22:09 4

15. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Doesn't matter how many people dislike my stance. I've only stuck with Windows because there have been no other widely compatible/affordable options.

Google has the money and sway to make Android into a desktop/laptop experience, complete with peripherals, simply by partnering with OEMS like Samsung, Motorola, ASUS, and HTC. Hell, Samsung and Motorola already make good laptops, and Samsung dabbles in printers. It can be done.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 22:09 2

16. tarozeero (Posts: 16; Member since: 07 Jun 2012)


Good luck with that crap of an OS.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 22:41 5

19. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


This "crap of an OS" performs better over a longer time period than any Windows computer I've ever owned.

My first laptop, which cost me 2000 dollars, by the way, had to be sent back to the manufacturer three times. My second laptop overheated all the time (and had Vista, which doubly sucked) and died in less than two years. My third laptop has been slowing down consistently, and just died on me last Saturday. Again, this took less than two years. Now, granted, all it needed was a new hard drive, but still.

My complaints about Microsoft and its products are numerous. I could write an entire post about them. I have few complaints about Android, my main one being the length of time manufacturers and carriers take to put out updates. Otherwise, I have a grand old time with the OS.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 22:56 1

21. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2010; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


You can't compare a mobile OS , too a full PC OS... and yea I agree, in time computer do become less functional,, I really want too see this W8 PC tablet make it.. so I can replace my desktop compac PC...oh and I hate using my girls HP mini.. ugh. I generally don't like laptops... js my opinion

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 00:22

32. haseebzahid (Posts: 1836; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


well that is gona be way to expensive Pc is much more powerfull with no limits to resources Tablets cant be of that much resouces you know "Price"

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 06:43

48. Non_Sequitur (Posts: 1111; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)


In time, Android could make it. This is what he's trying to say... Stop arguing, Jesus Christ.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 23:01 1

22. spskrk (Posts: 2; Member since: 26 Jun 2012)


I have a windows laptop for two years and it is still like new - never had a problem.Yes it's getting really hot sometimes but its normal since it has quad core processor and powerful graphics, so i guess sometimes if you have problems with your device it's up to the user not the device itself.I also have a 9 year old windows pc - never had a problem too.And i consider me as a power user - i'm automation engineer so im using my pc for simulations, design and programming.
So when android start to support full version applications like AutoCAD SolidWorks, Visual Studio , Matlab and PLC programming software and perform better over a longer time period than windows device we can talk again.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 23:24 1

23. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Okay, so your personal experience doesn't invalidate mine. It also doesn't invalidate many of the issues I have had with the operating system and the hardware it usually runs on.

And yes, we'll see. What did I say? Give me full computer hardware and compatibility with the programs I need, and I'm done with Windows. Until then I don't have much of a choice but to stick with it.

Although I've found that with Google Docs, I have no need for the HUNDRED AND TWENTY f**kING BUCKS that I'd need to pay for Microsoft Office.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 23:56 2

27. remtothemax (Posts: 239; Member since: 02 May 2012)


also, these are hardware problems
even if they had android on them...
how would that stop tem from being sent back, overheating, or dying?

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 00:20 1

31. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Again, there is a laundry list of issues I have with Microsoft that extends way past the hardware. In the meantime, I only ever had to replace one Android phone, and that was after I had dropped it about fifteen times and knocked a wire loose.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 08:08

49. Schmao (Posts: 302; Member since: 05 Jul 2009)


You do realize that your hardware was not made by Microsoft...

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 00:19 2

30. haseebzahid (Posts: 1836; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


yes u can stay with Toys like ipads/android tablets this one is a real tablet

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 03:40 2

40. BattleBrat (Posts: 1175; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


Use an ICS tablet and get back to me, Android 4.0 is insanely advanced,a few more versions and yes, I see Android taking on desktop OS's

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 00:18 1

29. haseebzahid (Posts: 1836; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


thahaha noob Android will never become full desktop OS it can be replaced by Linux though

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 06:39

47. Non_Sequitur (Posts: 1111; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)


I know. Google should stop f**king around with Chrome OS and move with Android. We already have an (albeit somewhat small) Android laptop, the Transformer series. Get some more good developers and companies in the project, and boom. You've got a whole line of Android-supported hardware and software (in the Google Play Store and available for download elsewhere). Android rises to the top with Windows.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 21:03 3

7. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2010; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


I think what Microsoft did was a brilliant idea.... beside I read a article, @the verge.com.. that after what OEM partner HP did with the windows 500 slate, which was a DOA product.. that Microsoft wanted this tablet/PC done correct.. and I don't be live they "copied" any idea from those OEM partners.. they just feeling left out..
Good job Microsoft.. I await the surface pro :)

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 21:50 2

11. Scott_H (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Oct 2011)


We covered that article as well:http://www.phonearena.com/news/HPs-Windows-7-tablet-bomb-said-to-have-led-to-Microsoft-Surface-project_id31593

But both HP and Microsoft were at fault there. Regardless, we aren't taking sides as to whether Microsoft abusing the trust of their OEMs is a good idea or not - the market will ultimately decide that. We're just looking at the near-term ramifications. Heck, if Microsoft can make ARM and x86 tablets that sell by the truckload, they may not even want other OEMs in their ecosystem (Apple sure doesn't!), but that doesn't mean it won't create opportunities elsewhere.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 21:55

12. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2010; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


Oh yea , you guys did do a article on that..kudos PA

Oh and not to also mention, their building their own Microsoft stores... they certainly have something planned

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 22:16 1

17. spskrk (Posts: 2; Member since: 26 Jun 2012)


Dear Scott,

Although this is my first post i am visiting phone arena for a while.I usually use it just to read the articles and i don't like posting comments because of the "fanboism".
I think that the writers here are android oriented which in my opinion is very unprofessional.I am reading this site for almost two years and things here were really different in the past.Articles were more professional and used to show the people what happens in the tech world, not to give personal opinion based on rumors.Now this site looks more like "android blog".
I am not "ecosystem committed".I just want to express my disappointment.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 23:51

26. Scott_H (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Oct 2011)


spskrk - we appreciate everyone's feedback, but I have to be honest, we get accused of being pro-Apple (I believe Apple Arena is one of the names I've seen), pro-Android, and even pro-Windows. Of course we've been accused of being against those entities as well.

When we started reporting on the bad news building up for Nokia and RIM we were accused of having it in for them, rather than just reporting the honest facts that the two companies are struggling and have uphill challenges.

I'm sure each individual writer has his or her own subtle bias, but they each work to report the news accurately. Unfortunately, news has become more "interactive" now, and people seem to inevitably believe that whether news is true or rumor depends on how it effects their chosen platform.

In this particular case, it's not really a rumor at all - it's straight from multiple OEMs to one of their consultants. Check the source if you want to see how much of it comes straight from Windows OEMs. The rest of it is pretty non-controversial based on those statements.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 04:50

44. TylerGrunter (Posts: 1058; Member since: 16 Feb 2012)


The most popular nickname is iPhoneArena, actually ;)
It was quite and extended one, expecially after the review of the iphone 4. But it has been quite a while that people don't get so heated, and in general the site has become a lot less Apple biased.
The bias of every writer comes quite clear when you read in the site for some time (seriously, is not that subtle!), but I agree all of you are putting a good effort to be fair.
The issue right now may be that there are some writers that are Apple fans and some writers that are fandroids, but none of them is a Windows fan! So add some Windows fanwriter to the mix to keep everyone happy, LOL.
And keep the good work!

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 21:03 1

8. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 1043; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)


get over it fanboys it's how business works since when did any companies give a crap about other companies

they all take advantage of each

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 21:12 2

9. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2010; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


Well said... more profit for Microsoft, and support ..that's how craple does things... make money faq them other companies

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 21:24

10. MickDM (Posts: 63; Member since: 29 Nov 2011)


wow! sh is as good at this as vh...ijs...

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 22:06

14. MartyK (Posts: 726; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)


I think what the OEM is tick off about is this:

"Microsoft looked at what the [PC makers] were doing, seeing if it could meet their Windows 8 needs and then took action based on that,"

YOU CAN NOT LOOK AT OTHERS IDEAS, AND STEAL, NO MATTER WHAT IS AT STAKE. MS knew they where wrong, if PC maker knew that MS was putting out a device, I am sure they would not allow MS to look at their products!....this is wrong on every level.

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 22:23

18. CX3NT3_713 (Posts: 2010; Member since: 18 Apr 2011)


I see what you mean.. but those are prototype ideas.. its yours if you can "successfully build" it... IMO

posted on 26 Jun 2012, 22:46 2

20. domspencer01 (Posts: 15; Member since: 08 Mar 2012)


While most definitely not the right thing to do, I truly believe it was necessary. Maybe it's just me but most of the windows machines being put out now aren't that great (though there are some dang fine ultrabooks coming our way). I think that Microsoft had to do this. If they didn't get a grip on the hardware, if they didn't set the standard for OEM's to follow, Windows 8 tabs would probably not be that great. This makes the OEM's mad for sure, but it also gets them to kick their buts in gear! Imo it's a good thing in the long run, more pressure, more competition, more movement in the market. In all it will eventually make the experience better for consumers.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 00:24 1

33. haseebzahid (Posts: 1836; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


NOOBS* stop comparing Android with Widows8 they both different u can compare Windowsphone8 with Android . windows8 is full PC OS

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 01:23

37. ThreeFourSeven (Posts: 34; Member since: 23 Nov 2011)


Windows 7 wasn't built for touch screens in mind so if there is blame to give. It's Microsoft, plus those Windows 7 slates were way too expensive.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 03:44

41. BattleBrat (Posts: 1175; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)


It supports multi touch, there are a few more features that make it a little more touch friendly.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 01:57 1

38. kainy (Posts: 165; Member since: 10 Aug 2011)


You guys seriously expected something else? If you think that only MS is doing this... huh. Every company is spying on others and that is normal. MS saw the tablets that will come to the market and probably understood that these tables ware crap and I'm sure we will agree when they launch. MS needed a product that can compete with the iPad, it was either Nokia or their own hardware. I don't understand whats the problem here? Everyone could have made the Surface, but didn't. Now MS are to blame 'cuz they built something cool? Don't think so. Everyone will benefit from such tablet, and most importantly we will.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 04:39

43. TylerGrunter (Posts: 1058; Member since: 16 Feb 2012)


I guess the main point here is that they had access to ALL the OEMs prototypes, which gives the an unfair advantage as a competitor here.
Either you work with them or you compete with them, but not both.
The next time around OEMs probably won't be willing to show Microsoft their early models and the quality of the end products can suffer because of that. So customers could end up not having any benefit, but suffering instead due to this decission.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 04:10 1

42. medicci37 (Posts: 721; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)


2 bad Symbian didn't copy Androids profitability & competence.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 05:15

45. aoikemono27 (Posts: 177; Member since: 27 Feb 2012)


I'm sticking to my windows xp. PC and tablet are different platforms to me. I don't need nor want to do word processing, autoCAD, photoshop, watch hi-def movies, or anything complex or requires a big screen and precise input on a tablet. It's for browsing the web and words with friends, news reading, and silly pastimes. It's not the workhorse. Android is still a mobile OS no matter what and until they place it on a laptop and make it fully functional desktop grade stuff, its still gonna be a mobile OS.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 08:53

50. Techsword (Posts: 31; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


Some speculation on this has happend before. Maybe they took 2 looks at their OEM partners to give them one final chance and making anything consumers would buy. They obviously failed the test and thats when Microsoft made the bold move.

Can anyone honestly say that hardware wise Windows machines compare to Apple Macbooks? I dont mean specs I mean overall quality package. If you do please inform me because I would like to buy it. FYI I am pro windows but their hardware is not up to snuff design/quality wise.

posted on 27 Jun 2012, 15:21

51. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1153; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


I am not shocked that Microsoft decided to make Tablets for 3 reasons #1= the new
Windows 8 RT arms tablets many not have many APPS when they come to the market place unless they can use Windows 7.5 mango apps or windows 8 metro apps..it's a good bet they will not sell well and OEMS might drop making them. #2 Microsoft may have seen what it believed to be Dull Tablet designs Microsoft felt would not sell well and weaken Windows acceptance and good sales. #3 Microsoft is opening up physical stores and want to sell devices with their name on them. Microsoft knows the Business Enterprise People and Average People are buying Tablet computers and it's not a passing FAD. Microsoft decided to make a tablet computer that they feel is best design to use and sell windows 8 to the Enterprise and the Private citizen

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