In announcing the Surface tablet computers on Monday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer surprised many people by quietly announcing that Microsoft will start building its own computers.
Ballmer cited Apple's advantage (without mentioning Apple) of integrated software and hardware. "Things work better when hardware and software are considered together," he said. "We control it all, we design it all, and we manufacture it all ourselves."
Monday's announcement referred solely to the new tablet computers but many are speculating it is the beginning of a new plan for all Microsoft products. Ballmer's announcement was not specific about future plans. Missing in Ballmer's announcement was any mention of whether or not Microsoft would continue to allow others to build Windows-compatible computers in direct competition with Microsoft. Apple does not allow anyone else to build Apple-compatible machines and has shut down a few manufacturers that tried to do just that. However, Apple doesn't have Microsoft's contracted partners who have been building compatible computers for years.
This should be interesting to watch.
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