Despite Microsoft’s recent admission that it will compete directly against its own OEM partners with Surface, its homegrown Windows 8 tablet, Lenovo, one of Microsoft’s biggest hardware partners, is excited about the Surface release.
And its relationship with Microsoft, Lenovo said, is "closer than ever."
According to Preston Taylor, senior global product manager of Lenovo's ThinkPad group, Surface will only help generate more excitement around the Windows 8 ecosystem as a whole, ultimately helping -- not harming -- Microsoft partners like Lenovo.
"On the whole, the Surface tablet does a lot for the Windows ecosystem, and we believe that Microsoft announcing Surface is going to really bring excitement to the Windows 8 ecosystem and help to drive that," Taylor told CRN.
Lenovo this week unveiled its ThinkPad Tablet 2, the first tablet from the company to be optimised specifically for Windows 8. While it will go head-to-head with Surface upon its launch in October, Taylor said Lenovo is not concerned about the competition.
"Our general position is that the excitement in having strong, quality products in the Windows 8 ecosystem will be good for the ecosystem and ultimately great for ThinkPad," he said.
Lenovo's reaction to Surface is antithetical to that of fellow Microsoft OEM partner Acer, which said this week that it may start seeking "other alternatives" to Windows now that Microsoft has made its hardware debut.
"If Microsoft ... is going to do hardware business, what should we do? Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should we find other alternatives?" Campbell Kan, Acer's president for personal computer global operations, told The Financial Times.
Acer chairman and CEO J.T. Wang also said Acer has reached out to Microsoft, urging it to rethink its entry into the tablet market.
"It will create a huge negative impact for the [worldwide computing] ecosystem, and other brands may take a negative reaction," Wang repotedly told Microsoft. "It is not something you are good at, so please think twice."
Microsoft itself acknowledged that Surface will create a new competitive dynamic between itself and its partners, writing in its annual 10-K report last month.
Other Microsoft OEM partners including Dell and HP have expressed plans to go to market with Windows 8 devices this fall, but have been relatively quiet with their reactions to Surface.
Surface, ThinkPad Tablet 2 in the channel
Microsoft's Surface tablet also came under fire by Microsoft channel partners, after many felt snubbed my Microsoft’s decision to not sell the tablet through the channel.
While they praised the tablet’s chic look and feel, channel partners told CRN that Microsoft’s corporate accounts were its "bread and butter," and that the software giant’s reach into these accounts is significantly limited without the channel.
Lenovo, for its part, said it does plan to offer its new ThinkPad Tablet 2 through its resellers.
"Yes, we are going to be selling the ThinkPad Tablet 2 through the usual channels, and we encourage retailers, resellers and distributors to resell the ThinkPad Tablet 2," Taylor said.