Microsoft's entry in the computing hardware market with its Surface tablet line reportedly took some of its Windows hardware partners by surprise, and now HP CEO Meg Whitman has gone so far as to say Microsoft is becoming an "outright competitor" of her company.
At HP's annual financial meeting Wednesday, Whitman claimed "Wintel-based devices are being displaced by ARM-based PCs and mobile devices," primarily referring to tablets such as Apple's iPad. Whitman noted that worldwide PC sales are declining while tablet sales continue to grow.
In addition to the rise of tablets, Whitman noted that HP faces increased competition in the market, even from previously close partners.
"Our business-specific competitors are exhibiting increased pressure in targeted areas," she said. "Current long-time partners such as Intel and Microsoft are becoming outright competitors."
HP has worked to expand the diversity of its lines of computing products, increasingly using Google's Android operating system for tablets alongside Microsoft's Windows 8. Whitman notably didn't call Google a competitor at the financial meeting despite the fact that Google sells its own Nexus smartphone and tablet line that it creates with partners. Google's Motorola subsidiary also made the Xoom tablet, though that was released in 2011.
Notably, however, HP may have been directly responsible for Microsoft's entry into the tablet market.
In June 2012, The New York Times reported that the failure of the HP Slate 500 tablet resulted in Microsoft considering its own tablet line. Microsoft reportedly was unhappy with HP using below-average parts, with The Times writing that Microsoft executives were unhappy because the tablet was "thick, the Intel processor it used made the device hot, and the software and screen hardware did not work well together, causing delays whenever a user tried to perform a touch action on its screen."