Surface, OEMs, desktops and laptops
Obviously the surface marks a huge change to how MS makes money, in a way that making the odd mouse doesn't. Suddenly - they're making hardware. WOW - it's like Apple!
That's not my view. My view is that surface is more analogous to the Google Nexus program. i.e. "These OEMs are idiots - we're going to make one ourselves/tell the idiots what bits to put in (google phase this differently)".
We know that MS made sure that Windows Phone 7 phones conformed to a very restrictive set of specifications (OEMs got to pick a cover), but they can't really do that with computers, and tablets. Can you imagine the row if MS said "You can only put Windows on your OEM PC if it uses an intel i5 and nVidia Graphics". It would be carnage. Unthinkable.
One way that MS have tried to up standards is with their Signature Program. Basically it's a contract with OEMs that goes like so "You guys don't put crap on the computer, and we'll let your customers call us if it goes wrong". This really is a programme of limited success. I mean - had it been successful - this page wouldn't exist:
So what they can do is make hardware. Hardware that reaches a "gold standard". How do MS reach this gold standard? Don't fill the hard drive full of crap, and put it all in a nice box. QED. They have nothing to lose here really.
If the OEMs get better - it suits MS, and if they don't - it suits MS.
tl;dr - I don't want Symantec 30 day trial software or "HP update thingy panel" on my next computer - Microsoft can fix by making their own without it.
What do you guys think - will we see MS making hardware for existing markets or am I too hopeful?