How Apple pushed Microsoft to create its ‘Surface’ tablets

“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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  1. Microsoft could hardly expect their partners to make bold moves in the supply chain area to secure valuable supplies. For years, the only one making big margins on the PC side is Microsoft. The rest are left fighting for market share on price alone. Yep, MS was painted into a corner and mostly by the system they created.

    1. Isn’t that funny.

      “What’s the matter with you guys?!? How come you’re not re-investing your 1.5% margin back into hardware innovation!?!”

  2. The Surface changes nothing for Microsoft. while it might be a hedge against the future of computing, structurally, it lives and dies by selling the most popular OS in the world. This is a world that will for some time require the symbiotic relationship that MS has with its hardware partners. This is indeed a critical time for eh MS business model; a balancing act that will be precarious.

  3. Microsoft is in for a whole world of hurt when they decide to compete with their partners and the partners have a free Android solution they have been working with for a couple of years.

    Microsoft against the world, poor babies.

  4. Microsoft’s sad mistake is in realizing without a hardware/software combo innovation plan that also extends to supplies of innovative build materials you ain’t got nothin’. No advantage and only lost opportunity. It would be presumptuous for their partners to make the bold choices in hardware that Microsoft would benefit most from. It is Microsoft’s responsible to control the whole widget as time has now proven is the best strategy Apple has pursued. Of course it was always in Apple’s DNA to care to for this thorough tech experience as it was not and still is not for Gates & Ballmer. It scares the hell out of them. Thorough solutions for them has usually been met with indifference and consumer apathy due to the geek approach (like the Media Center) instead of working on elegant simple solutions. It was always their deal to advance any MS tech and they avoided that responsibili for as long as they could unto they were caught with their pants down, humping each other as their startled eyes met Apple oncoming headlights.

  5. Watching this whole thing play out is going to be a blast!

    MS is wallowing around like a ship with no rudder – no, more like a ship with an unpredictable rudder – no telling where they’ll end up as the wheel is turned – and with Ballmer navigating and shouting out “course corrections” to boot.

    What a show!

  6. Talk about sloppy seconds. The ZunePad is now the leading candidate for the sloppy seconds prize of the decade. If the ZunePad fails miserably, there will likely be a mass exodus of investors from Microsoft stock.

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