Microsoft Admits Surface Tablet May Anger Manufacturers, Endangering Windows 8

Microsoft has finally admitted in a required government filing what most everyone believed all along: by manufacturing Windows 8 Surface tablets it will compete with manufacturing partners, and it could endanger the Windows 8 tablet platform.

That admission came in Microsoft's annual report to the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission. In the report, Microsoft noted:

That admission was first reported by the New York Times Bits blog, which noted that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows division, have so far refused to say that, and in fact have even discounted it publicly. Nick Wingfield, who writes the blog, notes that at the Surface launch announcement, when he asked Sinofsky whether developing the Surface will hurt Microsoft's relationship with its partners:

Computerworld's Gregg Keizer reports that when the Surface was revealed, Gartner's Carolina Milanesi said:

Keizer notes that not all analysts agree, and cites IDC's Tom Mainelli as saying:

I don't agree that the OEMs need Microsoft, at least when it comes to Windows 8 tablets, because that assumes that there's going to be a tremendous demand for the tablets, and so everyone will be able to get a piece of a big pie.

Given the iPad's success, and what looks to be Google's hit with the Nexus 7, the pie for Windows 8 tablets might not be so big. And so Microsoft, with the Surface, could end up with a very large piece of a very small pie.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld, and the author of more than 40 books, including "How the Internet Works," "Windows XP Hacks," and "Windows Vista in a Nutshell" and "NOOK Tablet: The Missing Manual." You can follow him on Twitter or Google+.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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