Steve Ballmer: “The OEMs are doing great work”

It’s no secret that Microsoft stunned the technical world with the unveiling of the Surface. In turn, the reveal managed to make some of the OEMs shift uncomfortably in their seats and continue to trash talk the devices now. Add the rumor of a Surface Phone (or Microsoft branded handset) and it’s an interesting and exciting time for Microsoft and the consumer.

Speaking at a Churchill Club event with Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Linkedin, Steve Ballmer was asked about Microsoft’s push into the hardware market.

There has been a shift. OEMs will still build the lion’s share of Windows devices. With that said, it is clear that there is an innovation opportunity on the seam between hardware and software – and it must not go unexploited by Microsoft. We continue to work with HP and Dell, Toshiba and Sony and Acer and Asus and HTC and Nokia and Lenovo. But where there is innovation that crosses hardware/software boundary, they are not going to cede. Software is still the skill to have; but going to the market will be through devices and online services.

Hoffman noted that this will probably create tension within the ecosystem as a whole, with Ballmer stating they will navigate carefully and be completely up front with people (assuming he mean stakeholders, partners and consumers). Although you have to wonder just how much the OEMs knew about the Surface hardware before the public unveiling. Surely Microsoft wouldn’t have risked annoying them in the build-up to the launch of Windows 8, arguably the most important OS from the Redmond giant since Windows 95; would they?

Ballmer then touched upon the Xbox and the fact Microsoft just build the device, and that phone hardware specs are being closely controlled. But when he touched upon PCs, Hoffman out and out asked would Microsoft ship a PC.

Surface is a PC for all intents and purposes. The OEMs are doing great work and we’re excited about it. Same is true in phones. No need to repeat what other companies are doing brilliantly.

So that is that; at least for now. Don’t expect Microsoft to allow the OEMs to have all the control in the hardware market, with the Surface being the best example of the company being willing to take a chance and introduce their own device(s) into a very established market.

Source: Forbes | Image courtesy of VentureBeat

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7 Comments

Now that MS is crapping on the OEMs by releasing competing hardware maybe Valve is on to something with Linux... Just saying.

First off the OEM's have no reason to be mad at Microsoft. They ALL screwed up the tablet concept the last time. Microsoft simply set the medium bar they all needed to hit to make Windows 8 a success.

They all screwed up Vista by not supporting older hardware with new drivers. Vista itself was just fine. Taking it and fixing the issues and calling it Windows 7 was a cop out to me. But hey, whatever works.

The only OEM I saw crying like a little wuss, is Acer. The problem with Acer is they make crappy computers with low end hardware. When the Surface appeared they knew many would not buy that cheap crap even if it met the same price point. Dell certainly isn't crying and nor is HP and any of the others.

Microsoft is not in the business to please the OEM's. Without Windows the vast majority of them wouldn't even exist. They re all lucky I'm not the CEO. I'd buy one of the OEM's out and produce all Microsoft branded hardware and run the cheap ones like Acer out of business.

The Surface is a toy right now, I don't understand the issue. There is plenty of room in the Windows ecosystem to handle another player. Microsoft is not your friend. They are in business to make money. The OEM's are making money because of MS. They as Ballmer said, make and sell the lion's share of computers and the small amount of computers MS is making isn't going to hurt there bottom line.

HP and Dell and Lenovo have nothing to fear or worry about. Its those others like Acer and Sony who haven't made to much of an enterprise dent that have to worry. Once the Pro comes and businesses start jumping to it (those that can), MS will be well on their way to 400 sold by summer 2012.

I think MS made a good move. They did what was necessary and I have no problem with that. In fact I would go so far as to say, they should have years ago. I would love to have a computer, phone and entertainment device made by MS with its software giving us the benefits Apple has had for years.

If Microsoft makes a Windows Phone under their brand, I'd buy it, providing the OS has the features I want. I did like the Windows device, but it got boring way to fast. iOS is boring too and Android is starting to get a bit stale. The only thing making Android so great is the features that are coming on phones like the GS3 and the Note II.

If Microsoft sets a bar and the other OEM's can't meet it or beat it, then they have their own selves to blame. So what another player has entered the market. So what it that player provides software to sell you hardware. There is no rule that says, just because I won a football team, I can't own a baseball team.

Microsoft knows the OEM's exist because of them. MS didn't blindside them. They have themselves to blame for screwing up the tablet concept in 2000-2005. Microsoft is making sure its right, because they cant afford another Vista-like debacle...which the OEM's caused out of spite.

TechieXP said,
First off the OEM's have no reason to be mad at Microsoft. They ALL screwed up the tablet concept the last time. Microsoft simply set the medium bar they all needed to hit to make Windows 8 a success.

They all screwed up Vista by not supporting older hardware with new drivers. Vista itself was just fine. Taking it and fixing the issues and calling it Windows 7 was a cop out to me. But hey, whatever works.

The only OEM I saw crying like a little wuss, is Acer. The problem with Acer is they make crappy computers with low end hardware. When the Surface appeared they knew many would not buy that cheap crap even if it met the same price point. Dell certainly isn't crying and nor is HP and any of the others.

Microsoft is not in the business to please the OEM's. Without Windows the vast majority of them wouldn't even exist. They re all lucky I'm not the CEO. I'd buy one of the OEM's out and produce all Microsoft branded hardware and run the cheap ones like Acer out of business.

The Surface is a toy right now, I don't understand the issue. There is plenty of room in the Windows ecosystem to handle another player. Microsoft is not your friend. They are in business to make money. The OEM's are making money because of MS. They as Ballmer said, make and sell the lion's share of computers and the small amount of computers MS is making isn't going to hurt there bottom line.

HP and Dell and Lenovo have nothing to fear or worry about. Its those others like Acer and Sony who haven't made to much of an enterprise dent that have to worry. Once the Pro comes and businesses start jumping to it (those that can), MS will be well on their way to 400 sold by summer 2012.

I think MS made a good move. They did what was necessary and I have no problem with that. In fact I would go so far as to say, they should have years ago. I would love to have a computer, phone and entertainment device made by MS with its software giving us the benefits Apple has had for years.

If Microsoft makes a Windows Phone under their brand, I'd buy it, providing the OS has the features I want. I did like the Windows device, but it got boring way to fast. iOS is boring too and Android is starting to get a bit stale. The only thing making Android so great is the features that are coming on phones like the GS3 and the Note II.

If Microsoft sets a bar and the other OEM's can't meet it or beat it, then they have their own selves to blame. So what another player has entered the market. So what it that player provides software to sell you hardware. There is no rule that says, just because I won a football team, I can't own a baseball team.

Microsoft knows the OEM's exist because of them. MS didn't blindside them. They have themselves to blame for screwing up the tablet concept in 2000-2005. Microsoft is making sure its right, because they cant afford another Vista-like debacle...which the OEM's caused out of spite.

This.

I expect the OEM's can rest easy now Ballmer has said that. Not that the OEM's really have anything to be concerned about re the WART Surface.

Microsoft really doesn't get it sometimes. It should just 'do a Google' by releasing Nexus type devices which have reduced costs and an almost top of the line spec. This will cause much hate from suppliers but will profit through store sales.

They should capitalise on that to bring their market share up before others completely swamp them out.

I'm sure once a user spends 5 years with a device with a store. It'll be very expensive and time consuming for an lets say an Apple user to migrate all their songs plus applications after that time.

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