Did Microsoft come up with Surface after seeing partners' designs?

When Microsoft first announced the Surface tablet last week, the company's CEO Steve Ballmer told members of the media that its many hardware partners for Windows 8 and Windows RT were informed of the tablet before the official reveal. Ballmer would not go into details about what Microsoft told its hardware partners, nor their reaction to the Surface news.

Now a former AMD vice-president claims that Microsoft decided to launch the Surface tablet after first getting information from its Windows 8 hardware partners about their own design plans. Patrick Moorhead, currently the president of Moor Insights & Strategy, claims in a new column on Forbes.com:

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. Is this just a coincidence?   I’ll let you be the judge of that.

The implication is that Microsoft got a lot of insider information about what the company's possible future competitors had planned for their Windows 8 tablets and decided to use that information to come up with the design of the Surface. It also implies that Microsoft's OEM partners may not be able to trust Microsoft anymore.

If true, this would seem to somewhat contradict an earlier report that claims Microsoft made the Surface tablet in response to the failures of HP's WebOS-based TouchPad tablet and the Windows 7-powered HP Slate 500.

Source: Forbes.com

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There wouldn't have been enough time to show working prototypes, MS to plan, investigate, and build theirs./

Just another exec for a company that needs people to remember it. **** of AMD, you had your chance, Intel killed you.

So, basically, MS released the Surface because everything else was likely crap?

If so, I don't see what the issue is at all. If anything it's good - Surface is shaping out to be a great hybrid PC.

Let's be clear:

There si no way Microsoft even if they ahd all the money in the world, coudl they design such a devic ein only a few weeks. What MS could have did tho is, maybe this was something they coudl have been making for in-house emplyees and decided to market it.

Lets face it. Gate had a tablet idea a very long time ago. He left that dream to be made possible by PC OEM's. What did theycome up with? They took a laptop and faced the screen backwards.

Between 2001 ad 2007 they had nothing. Then Apple made the iPad. Even to this day, none of them with all their money can even make a competing device. Only Samsung has tried to on somlevel.

Microsofft decided you all have no idea and you had 11 years to prove otherwise. You all proved NOTHING. You proved that you have no money being used in R&D and you are all just copy-cats.

Microsoft decided not to wait on yor to make WIndows 8 a success. They saw what happened with Vista and they simply can't afford another PR nightmare 3 years later.

Moorhead you are a fool.

So in your opinion Microsoft toke the idea from the partners create a full finished hardware product, full of ideas and concepts and design it and build it in only a few weeks just to go to a market that they don't want to be (hardware) a to ruin all the partnerships and the business model thy follow with windows...

1st they must have a pretty incredible team to come up with the concepts and actually build them in such short term...

2nd with so many hardware builders in the past 20 years that cant even innovate and compete at quality and design with only one company (apple) now that ms put an effort to it themselves they stole from those same companies...

Im sure if the surface came from a partner ms would be glad to support them... unfortunately those companies don't really care about giving us the best product possible... they have been failing and failing and failing at providing good look , craftsmanship, quality and actually put everything to work together... don't mater what brand or model all of them have a week point, that's where apple hardware shines...

whoever had the idea or believes in this post must have huge problems seeing the reality out there... so much sensationalism that I even regret read some posts sometimes.

its like saying that Porsche or Ferrari would steal the plans for the new ford focus...

AMD makes tablets? OH WAIT....!!!!!! They don't...so why is anyone even giving them a hint of respect as to being right? They make chips...bad ones at that other than they bought ATI who makes good chips.

So a chipmaker is trying to call out Microsoft? Lets just say what he says is even remotely true. If MS did see other OEM's stuff and felt they can do better, what's the problem with them doing so?

The biggest problem with the last string of Windows tablets wasn't just the poor hardware HP used, but the fact Windows 7 simply wasn't designed for such. That is why they failed.

Even tho MS will likely seell quite a few, the OEM's can still sell more of them. I think Microosft did this to give the OEM's an idea what they need to acheieve to make sure their hardware sells using Windows 8. The tablets needs to support the OS as iOS does the iPad.

if the OEM's fail to succeed...AGAIN, Windows 8 will be another Vista. If none of the OEM's get it right, they alone will suffer. Microsoft won't. The only problem is, without the OEM's sales, there is no way Microsoft could meet the demand for hardware sales by themselves. Windows has over 1B users. If 1/2 of them wanted this tablet, could Microsoft make enough in 3 years before Windows 9? Unlikely.

The Surface looks better than any other Windows 8 tablet I have seen so far. I don't see what Microsoft could have gleaned from access to competing OEMs designs, other than what NOT to do.

theyarecomingforyou said,
The Surface looks better than any other Windows 8 tablet I have seen so far. I don't see what Microsoft could have gleaned from access to competing OEMs designs, other than what NOT to do.

Windows 8 tablets? Surface/Surface Pro kills most Ultrabooks - and a lot of tablets - period (regardless of what OS they run). First off - the keyboard design looks like it is actually *squarely attached* - not detachable. (In short - netbook or small notebook; not tablet.) The entire rest of the design says *quality*; down to the construction materials. So far, not so much as ONE Ultrabook - from anybody - can match the Surface Pro's fit/finish; surprisingly, even Apple's MacBook Air (the new version) would have serious trouble - the ONLY advantage the MBA has is the Retina Display. The real question about the Surface Pro will be the retail price.

Screw the OEM's. They have systematically loaded pc's with garbage, low res screens, and crappy trackpads. Singlehandedly giving certain users a view of Win 7 that was far from the gem that it really is. MS owes the OEM's nothing.

Probably. Maybe it is due to MS's concern that Windows-8 is not going to be the huge hit it was expecting in the enterprise/business venues and OEM's potential lack of wholehearted endorsement.

I think the bottom line is MS wants OEMs to stop designing crappy hardware. They saw what was coming and decided to put the hammer down and it was called Surface. Design it right or GTFO.

Competition drives innovation. If MS weren't happy with partners machines and decided to create their own, then i'm all for that.
Hopefully in the coming months/years, these same partners will come up with some great designs to compete.

Uhh and? MS after seeing the crappy designs from OEM's decided they REALLY needed a device that showed off what Win8 was capable of and designed one to meet their own specifications and intentions with Win8.

Sounds like the OEM's simply failed again as MS saw they were not going to bring compelling hardware to the market.

Should MS just sit back and watch these OEM's crap all over Win8 and potentially kill it's launch?

Three years ago, when Microsoft started work on the Surface tablet, they saw into the future and realized that OEM's Windows 8 offerings would again be crap. And they were right.

rdmiller said,
Three years ago, when Microsoft started work on the Surface tablet, they saw into the future and realized that OEM's Windows 8 offerings would again be crap. And they were right.

Huh? Windows 8 is not out yet.

"I was told... I was told..." The tool is trying to pass on 2nd or 3rd hand information as legit.

Yet another fine biased posting by John.

andrewbares said,
You realize there were zero quotations in the article, right?
Huh? Unless the article was substantially edited in the hour between mine and his comment - no, there is a large quote in the middle of the story, that contains the 'hearsay'.

we saw a few leaked designs and concepts along the W8 tablet road, NONE OF THEM were even close to the powerful and original design of Surface... and i don't want to be the one giving Apple a thumbs up but theirs is the only original tablet design on the CURRENT market - every other design is either copying the iPad, unimaginative or plain ugly; the whole industry should thank Microsoft and Nokia - they showed that an original and recognizable design can be delivered in software and hardware too (by Nokia i of course refer to the lumia phones) even on the current market of iDevices and their better or worse clones

Microsoft was probably underwhelmed by the upcoming tablets so they decided to release as a product the Surface, which was probably meant to be a reference design, in order to force OEMs to innovate and make Windows 8 a success.

As the former VP said, I'll be the judge: MS has been designing this for the past year or two as a hedge (remember, they spend billions each year on R&D that never makes it to market). They met with OEMs to get a final check on what the launch designs were, then decided that the OEMs didn't do a good enough job. They then decided to pull the trigger on launching Surface as a way to scare the OEMs into upping their game.

My take is that MS will get out of the business of producing their own PC as soon as the OEMs are doing well, probably sometime in late 2013. I suspect MS will price their Win8 machine above the OEMs in order to reduce sell through volume for Surface.

Design? I'm not sure. Software updates plans were probably the reason. Look at support for XB0X360. Several years old and new features are still coming. Windows was always updateable... Windows RT could stop this tradition, if it comes from someone like HTC

All they would have learned was the specs and price points. That's only slightly useful. The actual hardware Microsoft has designed has little to do with this information. It's not like they copied somebodies design.

Like a design like Surface can be brought from concept to producing the prototypes as they were shown in a few weeks.. Not possible..

This claim is BS

Nah not enough time, my guess is they saw the crap and it simply boosted their confidence that launching the surface was the right thing.

duddit2 said,
Nah not enough time, my guess is they saw the crap and it simply boosted their confidence that launching the surface was the right thing.

Exactly. The idea that Microsoft just created the Surface tablets (and especially the covers) in a few weeks is ridiculous.

jakem1 said,

Exactly. The idea that Microsoft just created the Surface tablets (and especially the covers) in a few weeks is ridiculous.

Agreed.

duddit2 said,
Nah not enough time, my guess is they saw the crap and it simply boosted their confidence that launching the surface was the right thing.
Yep! I don't know how the hell you could turn around something that fast. OEM stuff pales compared to this thing. If any OEMs need to strive to make something that looks that good. Now, how it performs is a completely different story.

I spy a little green monster of jealousy on the shoulders of one or two OEM's... they've spent years and tens of millions on teams of designers, Microsoft (a primarily software company) spends 6 months and a million on it and appears to do a better job!

br0adband said,
To be blunt, terse, and right to the point:

Who cares?


other than some antitrust problems, I'd agree...as long as it's a great tablet (which it is) it's gonna sell great

simplezz said,

The OEM's? This kind of behaviour isn't going to engender future collaborations. Although it's not the first time either:

http://hackaday.com/2011/07/14...microsoft-steal-the-kinect/

So, he patented his product and Microsoft was able to patent theirs and now it's alleged that they stole it? Ignoring for a moment the fact that they purchased a company with some of the Kinect tech, I would question their both being able to secure patents for the same thing if in fact that is the case... Since I don't believe Kinect uses infrared dots to track users, I'd say the technology is very different.

As for the Surface tablet, I don't see how they would have ever gotten a device together so quickly as the quote mentions a few weeks prior to the unveil.

I think this is just creating a lot of nonsense about nothing.