Microsoft’s Surface: A Role Model For OEMs?

With the recent launch of Surface Pro 3, Microsoft has certainly upped the game – both against Apple and its own OEM partners – and produced the best Surface product to date but, if any of you remember the early punditry following the release of the original Surface products, we still aren’t entirely sure regarding its intentions for in-house manufacture. Did it spend billions and rename itself to a “Devices and Services” company only to guide its OEMs to freedom and glory? I suppose not; they are clearly in the race and, from the look of things, quite serious about it.

The Surface line does, however, seem to have fulfilled the other role it was purported to have, too, whether Microsoft intended for it to or not. It’s certainly no coincidence that within weeks of the Surface Pro’s launch, we have three PC OEMs (Acer, Asus , and HP) announcing QHD products, similar to the display on the Surface Pro 3. For years, while Apple has been making huge strides in screen resolution with Retina displays, even the best of PC products seemed to have stagnated at 1080p displays. That seems to have changed this year around. I mean, why would anyone want to buy a $1000+ Ultrabook from HP when they can get a two-in-one, class-defining Surface with a better screen for the same price – with the added benefit of no preinstalled software?

Whether Microsoft did really initiate this race in order for its OEMs to improve their products at a faster rate or whether it was, itself, playing catch up to plans it knew about, it doesn’t really matter (I mean, who doesn’t love a better display?) but one thing we can be sure about is that Microsoft’s entry to the hardware market, though limited in terms of form factors, certainly makes competition all the more tougher and will stimulate far more innovation than we have previously seen coming from its partners.


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