Outspoken Acer Chief Tells Microsoft to Tread Carefully on Surface

Paul Lilly

On the Surface, Microsoft is hoping its tablet strategy will ignite Windows 8 in the mobile space and steal a slice of Apple's market share pie, but at what cost? It's not an insignificant question. Microsoft relies on its hardware partners to drive its Windows platforms, and by taking the reigns and racing alongside them, the Redmond company is essentially biting the hands that feed it. Lest anyone think Microsoft's OEM partners are taking this lightly, Acer chairman J.T. Wang issued some words of warning to Microsoft.

Acer's message to Microsoft is to "think it over," the Financial Times reports . Wang tells FT.com his company spoke with Microsoft and told the software giant that its plans to launch Surface into the market place "will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at so please think twice."

Reading between the lines, that's about as thinly veiled as a threat can get. Acer's basically telling Microsoft that if it insists on playing with fire by directly competing against its hardware partners, the company's going to get burned. Whether or not Acer and others would actually abandon Windows, out of spite or as part of what they feel would be a business savvy move, remains to be seen.

Surface is a calculated risk for Microsoft. The company doesn't have a presence in the tablet market, which is dominated by the iPad, followed by a spattering of popular Android devices. Surface solves that problem, or at least will attempt to, but will also anger OEM partners who have stuck with Microsoft through the years.

Acer's president, Campbell Kan, echoed Wang's remarks by asking the million dollar question: "If Microsoft is going to do hardware business, what should we do? Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should be find other alternatives?"

In a couple of months, Acer and every other OEM partner invested in the tablet market will have to come up with an answer.

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