We were worried that Microsoft might wind up with frenemies in the PC industry after introducing its Surface tablets. There hasn’t been a lot of backlash so far, but the Windows 8 tablets clearly rankled some Acer executives — they’re lashing out at their OS partner in a very public fashion. Acer’s EMEA senior VP Oliver Ahrens is accusing Microsoft of trying to copy Apple’s business model and thinks the Surface line will struggle to get any traction. It could lead to a “defocus” at Microsoft as the software giant forgets the PC builders that got it to the top, he says. Meanwhile, frequently outspoken company founder Stan Shih isn’t even convinced that Microsoft is serious about the whole affair. To him, Surface is just an attempt to spur tablet designers into action that will fade away if and when Microsoft deems it a success. It’s entirely possible that either executive is right knowing Microsoft’s very mixed track record in hardware. Just consider the source before you cast too much doubt of your own: Acer isn’t exactly great with tablet market predictions.
Microsoft: Surface was developed in an ‘underground bunker’ at first, we can play the secrecy game too
We commonly associate extreme secrecy around a product design with Apple, but it now looks to be in vogue with all the major technology companies: just days after Samsung revealed the Galaxy S III’s secret sauce, Microsoft has explained to TechRadar that it developed its surprise new Surface tablets under a similarly tight watch. A special wing of Microsoft’s hardware unit initially worked in an “underground bunker,” according to the division’s Stevie Bathiche, before moving to a more conventional building with an ‘airlock’ door — the company was just that concerned that Bob from Accounts Receivable might spoil the whole thing. As we all know by now, that level of secrecy proved effective almost until the last minute and let Microsoft design to its heart’s content; we still don’t know if other PC builders were aware. The practice is a sharp break from Microsoft’s tendency to telegraph its strategy well in advance, and it emphasizes just how much importance Redmond places on its self-developed Windows 8 hardware.