[This post has been updated with some thoughts from analyst Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft.]
Microsoft broke with its history of relying on its hardware partners to produce Windows computer devices when the company announced yesterday it would be producing Surface, its own line of tablets.
So how did its longtime partners feel about that?
Turns out, Microsoft gave its partners a heads-up beforehand that “something like this” was coming, according to a report in AllThingsD. The article says Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer noted that many PCs will still be sold by the company’s partners.
“Our PC partners knew in advance we were announcing something today in this space,” Ballmer said.
So how did they feel about it? “No comment.”
Michael Cherry, an analyst with independent research firm Directions on Microsoft, said how partners will react to Surface depends on several things: What price Microsoft will charge partners for Windows 8 and Windows RT and what kind of support Microsoft will provide for its partners who use those operating systems.
Partners pay to license the Windows OS that goes into their PCs. Microsoft, it is assumed, would not have to charge itself for Windows 8 or Windows RT in Surface. “This alone give Surface an advantage,” Cherry said.
Second, if a hardware partner has an issue with the OS that they’d like Microsoft to change, does that partner have as much of a priority as the Surface team?
“In the end the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is probably okay if the field remains relatively level,” Cherry said. “Then they have room to compete on quality and other factors such as price. If the field is too tipped in favor of the Surface team, then OEMs may be more inclined than ever before to offer alternatives such as Ubuntu, or produce fewer Windows models.”