“Around the time the iPad came out more than two years ago, Microsoft executives got an eye-opening jolt about how far Apple would go to gain an edge for its products,” Nick Wingfield reports for The New York Times.

“Microsoft learned through industry sources that Apple had bought large quantities of high-quality aluminum from a mine in Australia to create the distinctive cases for the iPad, according to a former Microsoft employee involved in the discussions, who did not wish to be named talking about internal matters,” Wingfield reports. “The executives were stunned by how deeply Apple was willing to reach into the global supply chain to secure innovative materials for the iPad and, once it did, to corner the market on those supplies. Microsoft’s executives worried that Windows PC makers were not making the same kinds of bets, the former employee said.”

Wingfield reports, “The incident was one of many over the last several years that gradually pushed Microsoft to create its own tablet computer, unveiled last week. The move was the most striking evidence yet of the friction between Microsoft and its partners on the hardware side of the PC business. It is the first time in Microsoft’s almost four-decade history that the company will sell its own computer hardware, competing directly with the PC makers that are the biggest customers for the Windows operating system… ‘You’ve got this sclerotic partnership structure where the partners don’t have any oxygen to be innovative,’ said Lou Mazzucchelli, an entrepreneur in residence for a venture capital fund backed by the state of Rhode Island and a former technology analyst. ‘I believe Microsoft was painted into a corner. If they’ve didn’t move soon, Apple would have so much of a lead, it would be almost impossible to catch them.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: From what’s we’ve seen from Microsoft to date (Blurry Ass Tablet™), Apple, as long as they continue to execute with even half the focus they’ve shown for the last 15 years, is already uncatchable.

ZunePads saddled with Windows of any stripe simply aren’t going to cut it.

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