By Alexandra Burlacu | Aug 07, 2012 12:26 PM EDT
Acer, the world's third-largest computer maker, took a stand against Microsoft and publicly criticized the software giant's Surface tablet project, with Acer CEO JT Wang saying the Microsoft-branded tablet will likely "create a huge negative impact" for the Windows 8 and tablet ecosystems, and it would significantly affect manufacturers such as Acer.
Back in June Microsoft unveiled Surface, a tablet computer powered by its Windows operating system, set to launch later this year. Surface is expected to launch alongside Windows 8 on Oct. 26, and although pricing is not confirmed at this point Microsoft said it should be "competitive" with the rest of the tablet ecosystem. While it was expected that original equipment manufacturers would be unhappy about Microsoft's move, Acer is the first manufacturer to voice its concerns.
"We have said [to Microsoft] think it over...," Wang told the Financial Times on Monday, Aug. 6. "Think twice. 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," Wang warned Microsoft, pointing to the software giant's poor track record in balancing its own hardware and software.
Wang's tirade may have been prompted by Microsoft's recent blog post describing Surface as its "new family of PCs." Surface was previously supposed to be a single device, which many in the industry interpreted as a move to encourage manufacturers to improve their own Windows tablet designs.
In the same report, the Financial Times cited Acer's global PC operation chief Campbell Kan as saying his company was considering whether to continue relying on Microsoft's software or find other solutions besides Windows, if Microsoft was actually making a serious move in the hardware industry. "If Microsoft...is going to do hardware business, what should we do?" asked Kan. "Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should we find other alternatives? On one hand Microsoft is our partner, but on the other, Microsoft's move makes them compete not only with us but with all PC makers," Acer spokesman Henry Wang told Bloomberg BusinessWeek in a telephone interview on Tuesday, Aug. 7. "We think that Microsoft's launch of its own-brand products is negative for the whole PC industry."
Microsoft's foray into the hardware business came as a surprise to most of its partners, some of whom were informed of the project's existence just days before Microsoft publicly announced its plans. The company has acknowledged the possibility of damaging partner relations with this move, but CEO Steve Ballmer explained that Microsoft is "not going to leave any space uncovered that is Apple's."
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