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HP and Microsoft in open conflict as they become 'outright competitors'

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Meg Whitman HP (Verge original image)
Meg Whitman HP (Verge original image)

Hewlett Packard and Microsoft are changing "from partners to outright competitors," says HP CEO Meg Whitman, as the companies shift into the same hardware and service markets.

Her words came in a speech given before financial analysts in San Jose. Microsoft has made a number of recent decisions contrary to HP's own interests, including bailing out competitor Dell in an attempt to push Windows 8 to the business sector. Also central to her reclassification is Microsoft's commitment to Surface, despite previous claims from HP that Surface wasn't a threat to its own Windows 8 tablet. This echoes earlier complaints from other OEM partners such as Acer, whose CEO warned Microsoft to "think twice" before releasing the Surface tablet.

HP once said that Surface wasn't a threat to its own Windows 8 tablet

Earlier this year, Microsoft indirectly called out OEM companies such as HP in its explanation for Surface's creation: Craig Mundie — senior advisor to Microsoft's CEO — said although Microsoft had planned to leave device design to its partners, "it became hard to guarantee a uniform quality of experience that the end user had." HP's own Slate tablets were poorly received and widely panned in tech reviews.

Despite Whitman's claims at the beginning of 2012 that HP had to "stick with [Windows 8]," because she was "a believer," the company is pulling away from its reliance on Microsoft's OS as it attempts to get back on a profitable track. Earlier this year HP announced Android and Chrome OS devices, signalling a shift away from Windows reliance. This week HP showed a new 11 inch Chromebook at a Google event, sold in Google's own store and branded with Google colors: a very visual sign of its wavering allegiance.