Microsoft's PC partners left out in the cold over Surface tablet

Top secret till the end

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It looks like Microsoft kept the details of its Surface tablet to itself until the very last minute, with partners only learning of the project days before its announcement.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters that some long-time Microsoft collaborators were kept in the dark about the project right up until last Friday, just three days before the news went public.

Microsoft has built up a strong network of hardware partners thanks to the huge success of its Windows operating system.

Calls made, little detail given

According to the sources, Windows boss Steven Sinofsky called a number of Microsoft's personal computing partners on Friday, but only provided them with very brief details, not even telling them the Surface name or specifications.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, has confirmed that the company had informed its largest hardware partners, but declined to be drawn on which ones were included, with Acer and Asus noting they knew nothing until the general announcement was made on Monday.

Damaging in the long term?

The Surface tablet marks a significant step in Microsoft's development, as it's the first time in its 37 year history that the firm has produced computing hardware itself, instead of using original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

The likes of Dell, HP and Toshiba have been churning out Windows machines for years and one source claims there's a "sense of betrayal" in the industry as Microsoft snubs its OEMs.

Analysts reckon that Microsoft has chosen to take this route in the wake of Apple's dominance in the tablet market, with the iPad also encroaching on the notebook sector – but will the OEMs still stay loyal after this new move, or look elsewhere… Google, anybody?

From Reuters