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Microsoft set to 'do a Nexus' with its Surface tablet

Acer boss Shih argues it will be a one-off play

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Microsoft’s much-hyped tablet PC launch is a one-off designed to boost Windows 8 adoption and encourage other manufacturers to produce their own tablets based on the OS, Acer’s outspoken founder Stan Shih has argued.

Production of the 10.6in device was shrouded in such secrecy that its launch earlier this week took many Microsoft partners by surprise.

However, Shih reckons they shouldn’t be worried as Redmond will walk away from making own-brand tablets after its work is done promoting this model, according to a Digitimes report.

In fact, they could actually benefit from the huge Windows 8-on-tablet marketing splash being made by Microsoft at the moment, he told the site.

As The Reg has argued previously, hardware for Microsoft is a means to an end rather than a destination and it is surely aware that, despite hyping up its 30-year history of manufacturing hardware, its only real success to date has been the Xbox.

As Shih pointed out, making hardware can be much less profitable than licensing software, so Microsoft's longer term strategy is more likely to mirror that of Google, which blazed the trail with the G1 and Nexus to show off Android and encourage others to follow.

Forrester analyst Sarah Rottman Epps said as much in a recent blog post, arguing that the Surface tablet “ sets the standard for other OEMs to follow”.

“But Microsoft won’t abandon its profitable Windows licensing model; there’s little risk that the future of Windows is total vertical integration,” she added.

“This is an experiment emboldened by the Xbox success. But in the game console market, Microsoft doesn’t compete against itself.”

Acer didn’t immediately reply to a request for further comment while Microsoft said it had nothing further to add. ®

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