Microsoft warned PC partners it was entering tablet hardware space

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
On the heels of the unveiling of Microsoft's Surface tablet, CEO Steve Ballmer has revealed that his company gave PC partners a heads up that it was going to begin producing its own tablet hardware.

Microsoft on Monday held an event to show off its upcoming Windows 8 tablet. The Surface will launch first with an ARM version, with a Pro model running Intel chips to arrive several months later. Though the device's announcement has generated plenty of interest, some pundits have called the tablet "vaporware" because Microsoft neglected to reveal specific details on the pricing, battery life and the release date.

All Things D's Ina Fried interviewed Ballmer after Microsoft's media event on Monday to learn more about the company's plans. Though Ballmer was predictably tight-lipped about the project, he did reveal that Microsoft vendors knew about the Surface tablet prior to the unveiling.

"Our PC partners knew in advance we were announcing something today in this space,? he said.

When asked how they felt about it, Ballmer simply replied with "no comment."

Surface 1Source: Microsoft


Microsoft is walking a fine marketing line between touting its new hardware while supporting its partners. For instance, Ballmer noted during his interview that most PCs sold next year will be from other companies, while also hedging that Microsoft could see significant sales of the Surface.

?If you look at the bulk of the 375 million machines that get sold (next year), they probably aren?t going to be Surfaces,? the executive said. ?On the other hand, we could have a sizeable business.?

Ballmer called the Surface an "important companion" to the "Windows 8 story," but he softened the statement by adding that it's "not the only piece."

The executive also revealed details on how Microsoft worked to keep the project under wraps. Information about the Surface was apparently only provided to a small number of Microsoft employees. Ballmer himself elected not to regularly use a prototype because of his frequent public appearances.

With the Surface, Microsoft will join Google in challenging Apple at its own game. Third-party hardware vendors have had trouble catching the iPad, leaving operating system makers to take matters into their own hands. Google chairman Eric Schmidt said late last year that his company would release a "tablet of the highest quality" by June. Assuming that such a device has remained on schedule, the company could unveil it at its Google I/O conference in late June. Google also bought its way into the hardware business with its recent $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

According to one recent market analysis, Apple will take back some of its market share from Android tablets this year. IDC expects the iPad to achieve 62.5 percent of global tablet sales, up from an estimated 58.2 percent last year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    New tablet from Dell.

    Codename BHC.

    "Butt Head CEO".

    Ballmer sues for defamation before realizing that it was ambiguous before that. :lol:
  • Reply 2 of 58
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/perlow/surface-microsoft-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you/20599

    Wonder what Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Acer, Asus, Toshiba, Sony, etc. are thinking right now. Is this an Android killer or does it push some of these OEM's into Android's arms? Or does Samsung fork Android and do their own thing ala Amazon?
  • Reply 3 of 58
    bwinskibwinski Posts: 164member
    Humm... Well, we'll see how they like the hardware biz in 6 months or so... They have ZERO capabilities to manage a hardware supply chain... This should be interesting to watch....
  • Reply 4 of 58
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    bwinski wrote: »
    Humm... Well, we'll see how they like the hardware biz in 6 months or so... They have ZERO capabilities to manage a hardware supply chain... This should be interesting to watch…

    But software ships in boxes… and so does hardware! So it's not really managing hardware, it's managing boxes!
  • Reply 5 of 58
    hcehce Posts: 19member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Bwinski View Post



    Humm... Well, we'll see how they like the hardware biz in 6 months or so... They have ZERO capabilities to manage a hardware supply chain... This should be interesting to watch....


     


    Well, they've been shipping XBoxes for quite some time now. They have to have learned something from the billions they've lost image !!


     


     - HCE

  • Reply 6 of 58
    sandyfsandyf Posts: 42member


    "Our PC partners knew in advance we were announcing something today in this space,” he said.

    When asked how they felt about it, Ballmer simply replied with "no comment."


     


    And in other news, Dell et al, respond in kind:


     


    homerbart.jpg

  • Reply 7 of 58
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,600member


    The ad looks great. Keyboard cover very cool. Nice to see MS take full control of the product. To run Windows apps you need to buy the battery guzzling version - not sure how well that will fly with people who expect 10 hours on a tablet between charges.

  • Reply 8 of 58
    rbryanhrbryanh Posts: 263member


    I'm so excited.  Something to sit next to my Zune.

  • Reply 9 of 58


    I must say this product looks awesome, at least this Win8 Pro version.  If it works as good as it looks I'll buy one.

  • Reply 10 of 58
    big kcbig kc Posts: 136member


    I look at that thing and I think it looks pretty slick.


     


    Then I think about it's practicality.  To use it as a keyboarded device, it would appear that you'd need to have it on a hard, flat surface, like a desk.  That ultra-thin keyboard can't possibly be rigid enough to actually use in your lap, can it?  That takes away a TON of utility right off the bat.  I can use my Macbook Air or an Ultrabook in my lap or anywhere I wan to use it.  Same for a simple tablet like the iPad or any other.  But this thing's keyboard is basically useless unless you want to/have the ability to park yourself at a desk or table of some type.  And then even if you do, what do you have?  A slightly thinner, slightly ligher, Ultrabook clone that will probably cost just as much, but not be as useful.  So why on earth would I want this over an Ultrabook?  I wouldn't.  And that's not due to distaste for MS, just simple practicality.


     


    Typical of MS (and so many others that have been coming out with panic responses to Apple products the past few years), the announcement is premature - no ship date, no pricing, no hands-on for the attendees.  Yet another unfinished product, promised at some price at some future date.  Which will probably turn out to be a long ways off, unless they rush it to market, which would be a BIG mistake (ask Palm/HP).


     


    Prediction: moderate success at first, then sales tailing off sharply.  Meanwhile iPad continues to kick ass and Macbook Air continues to sell like hotcakes, as if nothing ever happened.  Time will tell.

  • Reply 11 of 58
    tcaseytcasey Posts: 199member


    its a touch screen laptop..that looks like a black mac book using windows...i guess people could make a dual use out of it...but are we not looking to pass keyboard to talk(siri) ..is there really a big big demand for this type of device..i guess i would have to see hows it would be used in action before deciding.

  • Reply 12 of 58
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    big kc wrote: »
    I look at that thing and I think it looks pretty slick.

    Then I think about it's practicality.  To use it as a keyboarded device, it would appear that you'd need to have it on a hard, flat surface, like a desk.  That ultra-thin keyboard can't possibly be rigid enough to actually use in your lap, can it?  That takes away a TON of utility right off the bat.  I can use my Macbook Air or an Ultrabook in my lap or anywhere I wan to use it.  Same for a simple tablet like the iPad or any other.  But this thing's keyboard is basically useless unless you want to/have the ability to park yourself at a desk or table of some type.  And then even if you do, what do you have?  A slightly thinner, slightly ligher, Ultrabook clone that will probably cost just as much, but not be as useful.  So why on earth would I want this over an Ultrabook?  I wouldn't.  And that's not due to distaste for MS, just simple practicality.

    Typical of MS (and so many others that have been coming out with panic responses to Apple products the past few years), the announcement is premature - no ship date, no pricing, no hands-on for the attendees.  Yet another unfinished product, promised at some price at some future date.  Which will probably turn out to be a long ways off, unless they rush it to market, which would be a BIG mistake (ask Palm/HP).

    Prediction: moderate success at first, then sales tailing off sharply.  Meanwhile iPad continues to kick ass and Macbook Air continues to sell like hotcakes, as if nothing ever happened.  Time will tell.
    Based on the photos that keyboard looks like a gimmick. Can't say for sure of course until I try it out. But it seems like something that looks cool until you actually use it. All these clowns on Engadget saying "see Apple that's how you do a smart cover" when they haven't even used this keyboard. Who knows Apple may have tested something like this and ditched it.

    Tim Cook has been pretty clear that Apple is not going down the path of laptop/tablet hybrid (other than what they've already done with software & trackpads), my guess is they've prototyped hybrid type devices and found them to be not so great. Basically a mediocre tablet or laptop experience. I see some of these concept designs and think back to what Jony Ive said about anyone can do new and differet but doing something better is really hard. I see things like the PadFone and IdeaPad and think its more gimmicky than a refined product that will provide a really great user experience.
  • Reply 13 of 58
    flabberflabber Posts: 100member
    Nog if only they would hire a good designer. :(

    This thing looks/is clunky, fat, with too many sharp edges that will not make me like holding it in my hands for very long, and with the Windows Phone OS where you need a stylus for anything outside of the Metro interface. Which, by the way, is a stylus that feels too thin and has been obsoleted by both Android and Apple's tablets for a long time. Styluses belong to the same era as dial-circle phones and dial-up modems in my opinion.

    p.s.: I predict a broken stand within a year… a thin piece of whatever-metal hooked up by a minuscule screw is bound to break/bend.
  • Reply 14 of 58

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tcasey View Post


    its a touch screen laptop..that looks like a black mac book using windows...i guess people could make a dual use out of it...but are we not looking to pass keyboard to talk(siri) ..is there really a big big demand for this type of device..i guess i would have to see hows it would be used in action before deciding.



     


    Before deciding the Surface would make a good laptop, consider this: The screen NEEDS space in front of your knees for the kickstand to hold it up. THe rubber keyboard is then expected to fit in the smaller space between the screen and your belt. Fortunates it's flexible so you can run it part way up your stomach. Compose your typing carefully for parts of the rubber keyboard will flop over the sides of your legs. 


     


    Ballmer is fixated on the Keyboard. Apple is moving toward a voice-based future. The QWERTY keyboard was invented in the late 1800s. It's had a great run, but it's really not the best way to input into portable devices. (texting by teens notwithstanding). While Siri is still beta, Apple has gathered millions of hours of data on how people speak and that has improved Siri considerably. In addition that has included a large number of languages. With iOS6 and OSX 10.7 we will begin to see the results of all that data, and I believe THAT will scuttle a lot of what MS is trying to do with keyboards. 


     


    One last thing. Because of Apple's desire for an excellent user experience, and their experience with building phone technology, Apple has developed the best background noise filtering hardware and software... Watch for that to enter into the voice experience too.

  • Reply 15 of 58
    I just wish people would hold their opinions on this for a while. After all, typical Microsoft, this is still a vapourware - not much details on IRL's usage or when, it will ship. For all we know, this could be a DUD. Sitting nicely next to Zune (@rbryanh). Also, I feel sorry for the the ultrabook manufacturers seeing this is positioned in the same price bracket.
  • Reply 16 of 58
    Why would anyone buy a low resolution device?
  • Reply 17 of 58
    psych_guypsych_guy Posts: 481member


    Somehow when I look at this thing, I don't see a whole of market testing or industrial design testing.  It's just a bunch of ideas thrown at a concept.  


     


    A kickstand?  Really?  How many different vendors make a case with a portable keyboard for the iPad?  


     


    And I have to say it one more time because it's glaringly obvious: With no battery life statement, no pricing structure and no release date, this smacks of vaporware.  For all of you who say you might buy one "when it comes out", I hope you don't fall prey to MS's usual game plan with vaporware.  Namely, "Lets see how many suckers we can get to delay buying an iPad or an Android device by putting this fake product out there."  

  • Reply 18 of 58


    Attaching the toaster to the refrigerator looks pretty sweet in the pictures! The smart cover is smart, but how does it work when I just want to use the touch screen? I assume I can remove the entire thing. So, it maybe as useful (or useless) and (in)convienent as any one of those bluetooth keyboard covers are for the iPad.


     


    The rest of the tablet looks pretty solid as well. Still, with MS, you never know what will scuttle the thing. I will keep a watch on this one. It won't get any of my money, but it looks pretty good right now.


     


    Pricing, stability and battery-life - these are the things I want answered. I'm off to look for a video presentation of this launch. It's been a gloomy day and I need something to laugh at!

  • Reply 19 of 58
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member


    MS to it's Windows 8 OEM's today: Wham, Bam, Thank You, Suckers.

  • Reply 20 of 58
    kpomkpom Posts: 656member


    This is probably the biggest risk, and the biggest reward strategy. Ballmer has to have noticed that Apple went from near oblivion to the world's most valuable company in just over a decade following an integrated hardware/software strategy, while Microsoft spent the last 10 years stagnating and living off its cash cows called Office and Windows XP/7. If he succeeds, he'll keep his job a while longer and secure his place in Microsoft folklore. If he fails, we'll see another CEO in a few years. 


     


    That said, it's a bit sad that it took Microsoft to show the OEMs how to design a decent competitor to the iPad. They didn't try to copy it, the way that HP, Samsung, and ASUS did.

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