Acer begs Microsoft to "think twice" about Surface
Calls on the Windows giant not to compete with its own ecosystem by launching its tablets
Published: 7 August, 2012
When Microsoft unveiled its own tablet, the Surface, some PC makers took the view that it was merely seeding the market, and would then step aside for its established partners. Now the traditional vendors seem to be getting more rattled, with Acer calling on the Windows giant to "think twice" before it gets serious about the device business, and even threatening to switch to a different operating system.
The firm's CEO, JT Wang, told the Financial Times newspaper that Microsoft launching its own tablet would be a "huge negative impact for the worldwide ecosystem" in PCs. "We have said think it over. Think twice," he said in the high profile interview. "It is not something you are good at so please think twice."
He even hinted that Acer could distance itself from Microsoft - a threat which, if followed through by any major PC maker, could open a new door for Linux-based alternatives like Ubuntu from the desktop world or Android from mobile. Hewlett-Packard might even be regretting it relegated webOS to a backwater so quickly. "If Microsoft is going to do hardware business, what should we do? Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should we find other alternatives?" Wang said.
Of course, such words are more likely to be designed to put public pressure on Microsoft than to spark a sudden defection from Windows, but they do reflect a level of concern in the market - one which Microsoft itself may not see as negative. One of the motives behind the firm creating its own tablet and launching it with such impact was probably to shake up its traditional partners and showcase the kind of device it believes to be necessary for Windows 8 to thrive. Microsoft is well aware that mobile norms have driven the personal device sector in recent years, and the PC sector where it has most influence needs to fight back - a view shared with Intel, with its ultrabook platform.
Microsoft itself is recognizing other risks in its tablet strategy. In its recent annual report, it stated that developing an ARM-targeted flavor of Windows 8 could negatively affect its relationship with its usual OEMs, and that it will be tough to build up an applications base. In a July SEC filing, Microsoft added: "Even if many users view these devices [Android slates] as complementary to a personal computer, the prevalence of these devices may make it more difficult to attract applications developers to our platforms. In addition, our Surface devices will compete with products made by our OEM partners, which may affect their commitment to our platform."