June 19, 2012

Microsoft's New Surface Tablet Takes On Apple, Hardware Partners

Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based system builder who like all system builders depends on partnerships with Microsoft, said he is not too concerned there may be no hardware play for partners. "I can't imagine Microsoft will jump into hardware just like that," Swank said. "I can't believe Microsoft will stab partners in the back. This has to be more of a software or application play." 

However, Swank said, the Surface tablet PC is something Microsoft had to do to respond to Apple's iPad. 

 "Microsoft has to respond to what Apple did for people who use its devices or who increasingly bring them to the workplace," he said. "The iPad has Microsoft worried. It's a reaction to the iPad. And Microsoft realizes it can't rely on OEMs to fight Apple." 

There is the possibility that Microsoft will cut out hardware partners like HP and Lenovo, Swank said. "But Microsoft has to protect itself," he said. 

"In any event, the tablet PC is not always a channel play. For us, the Microsoft tablet is just another tablet to offer customers." Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) will most likely wrap some kind of channel program around its tablet PC, Swank said. But even it it does not do so, solution providers will still benefit from the ecosystem needed to support more mobile devices like the Surface tablet, he said. 

"We're seeing a shift from PCs to notebooks to other mobile devices," he said. "So we are concerned about how the shift affects our core business in PCs. But if this means a shift to the cloud, customers will still need to servers and storage to handle it." 

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