Microsoft blames weak Windows 8 sales on hardware partners as OEM relations deteriorate further

Microsoft has blamed its hardware partners for underwhelming sales of Windows 8 over Christmas, claiming they failed to produce enough attractive Windows 8-based touchscreen tablets.

According to the Register, Microsoft originally planned to promote 10 of the best touchscreen PCs from its hardware partners as “Hero PCs”, with Microsoft paying retailers to promote the computers.

“Microsoft is very frustrated with major [hardware partners] who didn’t build nearly enough touch systems and are now struggling to find parts and ramp up. Microsoft says they provided very specific guidance on what to build,” one insider says.

Following poor Christmas sales, Microsoft plans to ‘relaunch’ the Windows 8 platform in February with the release of its Surface Pro tablet in February.

The comments come after several Microsoft hardware partners criticised the software giant’s decision to enter the hardware market in recent months with its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets.

“We have said [to Microsoft] think it over. Think twice. It 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,” Acer CEO and chairman JT Wang said in August last year.

“If Microsoft … is going to do hardware business, what should we do? Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should we find other alternatives?”

The sentiments were echoed by senior executives at hardware giant Lenovo.

“Although we don’t like Microsoft providing hardware, for us, it just adds one more competitor,” Lenovo chief executive Yang Yuanqing said.

“They are strong in software, but [we] don’t believe they can provide the best hardware in the world. Lenovo can.

“To be frank, we’re not that worried about [Surface]. Microsoft is still our strategy partner. We are very optimistic on the Windows 8 launch so we will fully leverage that to launch our new products.”

Former Dell chief executive Kevin Rollins also questioned Microsoft’s decision to enter the hardware market.

“I don’t know that customers are begging for a Microsoft-based system. They are very happy with Apple and very happy with Android,” Rollins said.

Microsoft’s problems with its partners were exacerbated by its decision to only license a limited number of hardware partners to initially build tablets running Windows RT in competition to its Surface RT tablet.

Last week, it was revealed Microsoft is in negotiations to buy around 10% of Dell, further complicating relations with its other hardware partners.

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