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Another solution provider and Microsoft partner, who wished to remain anonymous, said Microsoft's move into the hardware business would actually be natural given what is happening elsewhere.
"Look at Google buying Motorola, or Intel buying McAfee," the solution provider said. "Companies want to do everything."
The real problem, according to that solution provider, is that Microsoft is late to the market. "At the Computex show in Taiwan, we saw Intel with a lot of mobile devices using its Atom processor. We saw AMD with its APU, and Nvidia with its Tegra. But nothing from Microsoft."
Microsoft Surface will give the Apple iPad a serious run for the money in the tablet PC market, said John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relations and marketing at Denali Advanced Integration, a Redmond, Wash.-based solution provider and partner to both Hewlett-Packard and Apple.
"Time will tell," Convery said. "Let the battle begin with the Big Apple and the Big Windows giants. The customer will decide and time will tell just how the partner plays. Our play with Apple is all about the services, the integration, .and making sure the customer has a great experience."
However, Convery and other solution providers said how Microsoft interacts with its hardware and channel partners is a key determiner of not only how well it will do in the business market, but also whether it can successfully compete against Apple.
Tiburon's Tarr compared the Microsoft Surface tablet announcement to Oracle’s blockbuster acquisition of Sun Microsystems as Oracle moved to tightly integrate its database software on a new line of hardware products.
“This is right out of (Oracle founder and CEO) Larry Ellison’s playbook,optimizing the software technology stack with hardware,” said Tarr. “This is Microsoft’s software running on their own hardware completely integrated and optimized hand to glove.”
Tarr said in his 30 years in the technology business he has never seen as big an industry throw-down as Microsoft’s Surface Tablet bet. He said there is a lot at stake if Microsoft does not do a good job supporting business applications on its new Tablet.
“If Microsoft doesn’t do a good job supporting business application on its Tablet, the score is going to be 600,000 applications for Apple and one for Microsoft,” he said. “Microsoft has to be careful that this doesn’t up as Zune II.”
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