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Microsoft admits partner conflicts with Surface tablet

28 Jul 2012
A Microsoft Surface tablet showing the Windows 8 metro interface and windows 8 logo

Microsoft has admitted that its Surface tablet could cause friction with its hardware partners.

The company said in a filing with the SEC that the possibility of alienating OEM partners who offer competing tablets constituted a risk factor for the company and its Windows platform.

The admission was part of a general warning Microsoft issued regarding possible threats the company faces from the emergence of the tablet devices. The company warned that portable devices were encroaching on markets and applications which had traditionally been performed by PCs in the past.

"Even if many users view these devices as complementary to a personal computer, the prevalence of these devices may make it more difficult to attract applications developers to our platforms," Microsoft said in its filing.

"In addition, our Surface devices will compete with products made by our OEM partners, which may affect their commitment to our platform."

Prior to the filing, Microsoft said little about the possible impact a branded device could have on the market for Windows 8 tablets. In addition to the Surface, Microsoft is looking to enlist other PC and tablet developers in creating touch-screen hardware for the platform.

Platform vendors have taken a variety of approaches to how they handle the distribution of hardware on their operating systems. Both Apple and Research In Motion operate as the sole proprietors of both hardware and software for their brands.

Google offers branded hardware for its Android platform, but such devices have traditionally been considered reference designs and have largely been sold to software developers looking to test their applications Android.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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