Microsoft’s first-party option now has the potential to upset what has been a stable relationship between hardware maker and software provider. We reached out to Microsoft’s partners for their response, and found them quite reluctant to comment on the situation.

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Microsoft’s debut of the Surface family of tablets wowed on several levels yesterday, not the least of which is the fact that Redmond will be moving into direct competition with some of the hardware partners it relied upon to build the dominance of Windows. Acer and Lenovo have both shown off Windows 8 tablets in recent weeks, with Dell, HP, and others expected to follow. Microsoft’s first-party option now has the potential to upset what has been a stable relationship between hardware maker and software provider. We reached out to Microsoft’s partners for their response, and found them quite reluctant to comment on the situation.

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HP and Acer declined to offer statements on Microsoft’s product plans or its implications for the Windows 8 tablet market. Dell, however, noted that Microsoft was "an important partner" for the company and that it would be delivering Windows 8 tablets of its own later in the year. Lenovo toed the same line, though a company representative did state that its selection of Android and Windows-based tablets put it in a "very strong position" to win "against all comers."

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When exactly manufacturers learned about Surface is one thing, what they think of it now is quite another. Even though the companies we reached out to universally declined to provide any comment on Surface itself, we expect Ballmer’s prediction that OEMs would "opine" will come true soon enough.