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Microsoft Surface: PC partners react

After an initial reluctance to make any comments regarding Microsoft's first foray into PC building and selling with Surface, the Redmond company's hardware partners are now starting to gradually open up. First it was Acer CEO JT Wang expressing concern, then we heard from HP saying its relationship with Microsoft remains unchanged, and most recently Lenovo stated it doesn't fear the competition, whoever it may come from. So some of the traditional PC leaders remain stoic while others have grown agitated. Keep track of this developing storyline right here.

  • Tom Warren

    May 9, 2013

    Tom Warren

    Acer CEO optimistic about Windows 8.1, claims Microsoft is back 'down to Earth'

    Gallery Photo: Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M5 pictures
    Gallery Photo: Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M5 pictures

    While Microsoft executives have been hinting at the arrival of a Windows 8 update, codenamed Blue, two Acer execs have been voicing their approval of planned changes for the OS. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Acer president Jim Wong explained that Microsoft is making alterations "at a high percentage" rate thanks to OEM input. Arguing that the world is not going 100 percent touch in the next five years, he says "touch makes a lot of possibilities for PCs," but that "you need to take care of the rest of the world that doesn’t need touch" too.

    Windows chief Julie Larson-Green dropped big hints about changes for non-touch use of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system recently. Speaking at the Wired Business Conference earlier this week she reiterated previous comments from Windows CFO Tami Reller that Windows 8.1 will include changes based on user feedback. Discussing the potential return of the Start button, Larson-Green said that "there has been meaningful discussion" within Microsoft. Windows 8.1 is expected to include a Start button and boot-to-desktop option.

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  • Feb 25, 2013

    Vlad Savov

    Stephen Elop interview: Nokia can compete with Surface

    Stephen Elop interview_stock
    Stephen Elop interview_stock

    For all the speculation surrounding Nokia's MWC plans, the eventual launches from the Finnish company this morning proved somewhat underwhelming. High-end features like wireless charging and a super-sensitive touchscreen were trickled down into lower price ranges with the Lumia 520 and 720, but there was no new hero device, no translation of the 808 PureView's 41-megapixel camera into the Windows Phone realm, and no tablet.

    We've been eagerly awaiting Nokia's entry into the highly competitive tablet space since way back in 2011 — when Stephen Elop confessed it has great potential and is of great interest to Nokia — but today the company's CEO remained demure on the subject of actually releasing such a product anytime soon. He told us that Nokia is "monitoring the dynamics" of this developing market, with an obvious curiosity about what Microsoft has done with Surface, but insisted that Nokia still has enough unique strengths and advantages to deliver a competitive tablet.

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  • Aaron Souppouris

    Nov 15, 2012

    Aaron Souppouris

    HP's head of PC 'not a big fan' of Windows RT, says Surface is slow and kludgey

    HP logo stock
    HP logo stock

    Todd Bradley, HP's head of PC, has spoken frankly about Microsoft's Windows RT and Surface launches. In an interview with IDG Enterprise, Bradley reiterated comments HP made earlier this year, saying he'd "hardly call Surface competition," before making some rather damning comments about Microsoft's first ever tablet. "It tends to be slow and a little kludgey as you use it," says Bradley, adding that "it's expensive... the press has made a bigger deal out of Surface than what the world has chosen to believe." Back in August, another HP exec said that Surface was Microsoft's way of "making a leadership statement and showing what's possible in the tablet space."

    Bradley cites the small retail launch — Surface is only available directly through Microsoft in a limited number of countries — as further evidence that Microsoft isn't making a big play. In the same interview, Bradley says he isn't "a big fan" of Microsoft's tablet-centric OS. HP has previously said that, although it will to re-enter the consumer tablet market in 2013, there are no plans for a Windows RT tablet yet.

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  • Sep 20, 2012

    Vlad Savov

    HP's Todd Bradley dismisses post-PC era, says 'people are trying to be dramatic'

    Gallery Photo: HP Spectre One all-in-one desktop official photos
    Gallery Photo: HP Spectre One all-in-one desktop official photos

    Todd Bradley is HP's executive VP in charge of personal systems and printers. As such, it's his job to be excited about the future of PCs, but he's gone further in a recent interview with PC World in dismissing the claim that we're living in a post-PC era as "just wrong." Citing the broad need for computers in everything we do, Bradley argues that the global PC market remains as large and buoyant as ever. He does acknowledge the increasing importance of tablets, a market that HP aims to lead from the front the way it does with Windows PCs laptops and desktops today, but he's ultimately unimpressed by the idea that portable devices are taking over from the more traditional machines.

    Though these comments from Bradley convey a sense of resolute confidence, they do clash with previous bold statements he's made, most notably back in January of last year when he promised an extensive and interconnected ecosystem of webOS devices. That plan didn't pan out for HP, which has since retrenched to more familiar markets, but now CEO Meg Whitman is keen to reboot the company's efforts on the mobile computing front. It may still be debatable whether we've quite evolved into the a post-PC age (and now that Microsoft is bringing WIndows to ARM tablets, what does that even mean?), but the future does seem to be headed that way.

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  • Aug 31, 2012

    Vlad Savov

    Lenovo's Gianfranco Lanci on the PC Plus era and the threat of Microsoft's Surface

    gianfranco lanci_stock
    gianfranco lanci_stock

    Fresh off his company's manifold Windows 8 device announcements at IFA 2012, Lenovo's Gianfranco Lanci sat down with us for a few minutes to discuss the present state of the PC industry. It's become something of a nebulous term these days, the PC industry, what with the definition of the personal computer undergoing a transformation into new form factors and types of functionality, but Lanci appears unfazed by this period of flux. He defines the PC world in terms almost equivalent to the Windows ecosystem — which is to say, if it runs Windows, it's a PC, whatever its size or shape — but he's also on board with Microsoft's more expansive concept of PC Plus.

    Lanci defines PC Plus as an expansion on the number and sort of devices that plug into that core Windows ecosystem, plus an expansion in the cross-pollination we can expect to see with other ecosystems. Without naming the spectral names of Apple and Google, he posits the current computing world as operating within roughly three ecosystems, and to him this PC Plus idea is about the need for greater interaction between them and Microsoft's software. In simple terms, the PC isn't dying, it's evolving.

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  • Sam Byford

    Aug 22, 2012

    Sam Byford

    Dell promises plenty of Windows 8 devices to compete with Surface

    dell logo stock
    dell logo stock

    Dell just announced a 22 percent drop in consumer sales as part of its Q2 earnings report, so with Windows 8 set to shake up the PC market in a matter of months you'd hope the company would have a solid strategy. Worry not, stressed CFO and senior VP Brian Gladden in the investors call, as there'll be a comprehensive lineup of Dell products running Microsoft's latest OS towards the end of the year.

    We're not exactly sure what Gladden might mean by "all-in-one tablets," or for that matter what Dell's take on a "converged device" would look like, but it seems a safe bet that we'll see both traditional slates and Surface-style hybrid devices from the company. Then again, anything's possible considering the variety of Windows 8 devices seen so far, not to mention Dell's unorthodox approach to the ultrabook.

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  • Jeff Blagdon

    Aug 16, 2012

    Jeff Blagdon

    Lenovo CEO ready to take on Microsoft's Surface, 'just one of many competitors'

    Lenovo’s CEO Yang Yuanqing isn’t worried about Microsoft’s upcoming Surface tablet eating into his sales. "[They’re] just one of our many competitors. We are still confident that we are providing much better hardware than our competitors including Microsoft," he said during the company’s Q1 earnings call, reports CNET. It sounds like Yuanqing is gassed up over his company’s recent performance — net profit up 30 percent year over year on strong sales that leave it just a hair (0.7 percentage points) behind HP for most PC shipments worldwide.

    While Acer CEO JT Wang warned Microsoft to "think twice" about Surface, up until now Lenovo had been striking a more diplomatic tone, with VP Dili Bhatia telling ABC News’s Joanna Stern last week that "Microsoft is a strategic partner for us." We hope the newfound confidence at Lenovo carries through the launch of its rumored Windows RT tablets.

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  • Sam Byford

    Aug 15, 2012

    Sam Byford

    HP doesn't see Microsoft Surface as a threat to its own Windows 8 tablet

    HP Tablet Commercial
    HP Tablet Commercial

    On the other hand, it doesn't look like we'll be seeing a similar product from HP — we know that the company is focusing on business users first and foremost, and Solomon believes "if you're a professional content creator, there's no way you're going to use a keyboard like that for everyday use." It's still unclear exactly what HP's Windows 8 tablet will bring to the table, however. Solomon says that the company will apply some "unique intellectual property" and promises further details "pretty soon;" hopefully that means ahead of Windows 8's October 26th launch date.

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  • Evan Rodgers

    Aug 10, 2012

    Evan Rodgers

    After warning Microsoft to 'think twice' about Surface, Acer CEO still thinks it will have a 'negative effect'

    Gallery Photo: Microsoft Surface tablet liveblog pictures
    Gallery Photo: Microsoft Surface tablet liveblog pictures

    After publicly warning Microsoft to "think twice" about the release of its surface tablet, Acer CEO JT Wang has clarified and tempered his statements about the company, according to DigiTimes. The article quotes him as saying that "Microsoft's actions will have a rather negative impact on the long-established PC ecosystem," but that "[Acer] has no intentions of quitting the Windows-based tablet PC market, and is aggressively developing related devices."

    Microsoft's move to participate directly in the tablet space has naturally incurred some doubt about whether existing Windows 8 hardware partners will be able to compete with the company's duo of Surface tablets. Wang said that Microsoft is "currently looking for solutions such as creating a price gap to minimize the [Surface's] negative impact on other vendors' product lineups," and that, if the Surface is priced at $499-599 rather than $199, "the effects will be a lot smaller."

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  • Nate Ralph

    Aug 9, 2012

    Nate Ralph

    Lenovo unfazed by Microsoft Surface as it targets Thinkpad Tablet 2 at business users

    Assuming the ThinkPad Tablet 2 arrives at the same time Windows 8 launches, its business advantage could be short-lived. The Microsoft Surface for Windows 8 Pro is expected to be out about three months after Windows 8 launches, and will reportedly offer a meatier Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor along with the same stylus and USB support — all of which seems equally business-friendly. There's still no word on a price or official release date for the Thinkpad Tablet 2, but the coming months will show if Lenovo's confidence has merit.

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  • Tom Warren

    Aug 7, 2012

    Tom Warren

    Acer CEO warns Microsoft to 'think twice' about its Surface plans

    Steve Ballmer Microsoft Surface
    Steve Ballmer Microsoft Surface

    Acer CEO and chairman JT Wang has revealed his own feelings about Microsoft's foray into PC hardware. Speaking to the Financial Times, Wang criticizes Microsoft's choice to manufacture its own Surface tablet hardware — warning the company to think it over. "Think twice," he says. "It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at so please think twice."

    Acer's founder Stan Shih also previously criticized Microsoft's hardware intentions, saying that he feels the Surface is simply an effort to encourage other hardware manufacturers to create Windows 8 tablets. Microsoft has admitted that its Surface devices could affect OEM commitment to Windows, but the company appears to be pushing forward with its plans to offer an ARM-based tablet at the same time as the Windows 8 launch. For Acer's Campbell Kan, president for personal computer global operations, this leaves the company debating its next move. "Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should we find other alternatives?," says Kan, in an interview with the Financial Times. A question that a number of OEMs, who rely on Microsoft to produce Windows, will likely be asking in the coming months.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Jun 20, 2012

    Bryan Bishop

    Surface: PC makers offer no comment as reports conflict on when Microsoft gave them the news

    Microsoft Surface
    Microsoft Surface

    Microsoft's debut of the Surface family of tablets wowed on several levels yesterday, not the least of which is the fact that Redmond will be moving into direct competition with some of the hardware partners it relied upon to build the dominance of Windows. Acer and Lenovo have both shown off Windows 8 tablets in recent weeks, with Dell, HP, and others expected to follow. Microsoft's first-party option now has the potential to upset what has been a stable relationship between hardware maker and software provider. We reached out to Microsoft's partners for their response, and found them quite reluctant to comment on the situation.

    HP and Acer declined to offer statements on Microsoft's product plans or its implications for the Windows 8 tablet market. Dell, however, noted that Microsoft was "an important partner" for the company — and that it would be delivering Windows 8 tablets of its own later in the year. Lenovo toed the same line, though a company representative did state that its selection of Android and Windows-based tablets put it in a "very strong position" to win "against all comers."

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