Did Microsoft Look at OEM Designs Before Launching Surface?

Sharing his industry insights at Forbes, Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy claims Microsoft’s OEM partners are “enraged” over the way Microsoft may have used their inside knowledge of OEM designs in designing their new Surface tablet.

Citing the act as a potential violation of trust, Moorhead explains:

Privately, PC OEMs are enraged about Surface, and not necessarily why you may think. Sure, they are angry that their partner is now their competitor, but they are angrier about the way Microsoft did it. It gets back to Microsoft’s access to OEM tablet designs. I am told Microsoft had early access to OEM’s Windows 8 physical designs, so they reportedly knew exactly what OEMs were to launch. Apparently, a few weeks ago I am told, Microsoft held executive-level reviews with Windows 8 tablet OEMs to get even further details on OEM launch and marketing plans and pricing. Then a few weeks afterward, the Surface launch occurred which to most industry observers looked professional, but rushed.

Surface with Type Cover

Sounds shady but more than plausible. In fact, I and I’m guessing most people assumed Microsoft knew what their hardware partners were building before they moved forward with Surface. Moorhead’s revelation only confirms that obvious suspicion.

But as I said before, and as Warner more cynically emphasized, Microsoft can freely throw their partners under the bus and get away with it. Moorhead warns that some OEMs are looking to “reinvest in Android-based Chromebooks and Android tablets” following the Surface announcement, but adds, and I agree, that would be merely a short-term inconvenience to Microsoft.


I disagree, however, with his claim that there’s serious potential for long-term disaster. It is true that, two years ago, I did foresee doom for Microsoft’s place in the home if they did not turn things around. Specifically, I claimed Windows PCs were in real danger of being displaced by tablets, smartphones, PCs, and TV devices running simpler, similar interfaces via Android or iOS. What changed? Microsoft is now turning things around by adopting their Metro interface across their entire line of tablets, smartphones, PCs, and TV devices. Boom.

It remains to be seen if Metro is up to that challenge, and I still have other reservations on the specifics of the execution, but at least they’re headed in the right direction. That, and their concrete hold on the PC market, should be enough to avert serious disaster. It’s all those little steps between success and disaster they need to watch for.

Via CNet

Alleged Apple fanboi, accused Android apologist, and confirmed Microsoft MVP for touch and tablet Mark Sumimoto a.k.a. Sumocat dabbles in all areas of mobile computing with a focus on Windows-based Tablet PCs and pen input. A mobile computing enthusiast since 2004, he pioneered the field of ink blogging via his personal blog, Sumocat's Scribbles. His current tools include a Fujitsu Lifebook T900, TEGA v2, and iPhone 4. Email: sumocat [at] notebooks.com


  1. I’m and avid Win8 supporter, and keep an eye out for all Win8 tablet announcements, but I have yet to see a single announcement or leak that looks remotely like Surface. Of course, if the implication is they “looked at all our designs” and then “did us one better” I could understand that; BUT, how did they do that in only a few weeks’ time – this had to be in development for years…

    • There are two “looks” cited. The much-earlier look at the designs and the more recent look at plans and pricing. The implication as you understand it is correct. (Correction: your understanding of the implication is correct.)

  2. “enraged”? Over what? A tablet that looks like a tablet? The kickstand? We’ll have to wait to see which OEM, if any, comes out with a similar design. The cover/keyboard? Brilliant, and, again, we’ll have to wait to see which OEM, if any, comes out with a similar cover/keyboard. And MS patented much of this new stuff how long ago?

    Call me suspect of “all” stories originated by media whores today.

    What’s the old adage? Either lead, follow or get the hell out of the way! GO MICROSOFT!!!

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