Imagine Microsoft as a hardware company.
OK, so before I kick off I'm going to link an article I read on Wired.com and hope that The Verge staff don't kill me for it.
It's a really interesting read and got me thinking about a future where Microsoft design and makes more of it's own hardware.
I can see Microsoft going down the traditional path of making laptops etc. I don't think that will happen but they're definitely capable of it.
I think what would be more fitting is Microsoft position it's hardware as cutting edge and experimental. To help try and push the boundaries of what can be done in hardware terms using Microsoft's large library of software products.
The Surface is an obvious example.
The truth is that for a long time OEMs have more or less left all that experimenting to Apple limiting itself to changing form factors every now and again (Eee PC etc.). Don't get me wrong it's nice to see them doing something. But I think they could do more (as evident with the Nexus 7) and the competition in PC manufacturing is in desperate need of a massive shake up and disturbance.
So maybe Microsoft should just screw the hardware partners and become a leader instead of a partner. As they say, if you want something done properly, do it yourself.
P.S. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with the next XBox. My guess is that it'll have RT for multimedia apps, DirectX for gaming and come in two versions, one catered more towards the kind of Apple TV/Google TV audience (capable of low level Kinect games and RT apps etc.) and the other for hardcore gamers.
And I know Microsoft has been a hardware company for some time, but it's been limited to niches with the exception of the XBox, by hardware company I'm more talking a full commitment to rolling hardware families, with new models etc. Not just one offs.