How do PC makers feel about Microsoft Surface tablet? ‘No comment,’ says Ballmer

Microsoft Surface tablet and Steve Ballmer

Yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the wraps off of Microsoft’s new Surface tablet, which resembles an iPad and has a screen protector that doubles as a keyboard. The response has been fairly positive so far, though we still do not know how much the device will cost or when it’s coming out. Looming launch questions aside, this launch is undoubtedly a bold move for Microsoft, which has always relied on hardware partners in the PC space. 

AllThingsD caught up with Ballmer after the press conference yesterday and grilled him on the position this puts Microsoft’s PC partners.

“Our PC partners knew in advance we were announcing something today in this space,” said Ballmer. When asked how they felt about it, he said “no comment.”

“If you look at the bulk of the 375 million machines that get sold (next year), they probably aren’t going to be Surfaces,” he said. “On the other hand, we could have a sizeable business… It’s an important companion to the whole Windows 8 story. It’s an important piece. It’s not the only piece.”

Do major Windows manufacturers like HP, Dell, Acer, Toshiba, Asus, Lenovo, Samsung, and others feel slighted? They might, but Microsoft has taken the gamble anyway. Microsoft has decided that its needs outweigh the risk of alienating its partners. Only time will tell if it’s a good move or not. Until then, we can look at pretty pictures of the new Surface tablet and wish we had one to try out.

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