Acer's chairman has called on Microsoft to think twice about launching its Surface tablets, which pose a big challenge for Windows PC manufacturers.

Acer Chairman JT Wang Microsoft
Acer chairman JT Wang who has told Microsoft to think twice before getting into the hardware market.

When Microsoft launched its two Surface tablets, in a somewhat rushed-looking even in Hollywood two months ago, the question many people were left with was, how are Microsoft's OEM [original equipment manufacturers] going to respond?

For years, Microsoft and the likes of HP, Samsung, Lenovo, Acer and Asus have had a symbiotic relationship, with Microsoft providing the Windows software for a huge variety of PCs and laptops.

With the launch of the Surface tablets however, Microsoft is looking to enter the hardware game, and this could lead to significant problems with the company's OEM partners.

The first company to publically vent its opinion on the matter is Acer. It's chairman and CEO, JT Wang, has spoken to the Financial Times about his concerns over Microsoft's new direction.

"We have said [to Microsoft] think it over," he told the FT. "Think twice. It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at so please think twice."


Indeed Microsoft seems to be only too well aware of the disruption the Surface tablets will cause among its traditional OEM partners. In a recent regulatory filing, it noted: "Our Surface devices will compete with products made by our OEM partners, which may affect their commitment to our platform."

The move towards becoming a hardware manufacturer, and attempting to ape Apple in some small way, leaves Microsoft's partners in a bit of a pickle. Do they look elsewhere for an OS to use on their PCs, laptops and tablets, or do they go head-to-head with Microsoft?

"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, said.

While Microsoft will only launch tablet PCs initially, this is the sector of the computing market which is seen as pivotal in reversing the recent slide in sales figures for the PC industry as a whole.


Apple is currently dominating the market with the iPad, but the launch of the touch-enabled version of Windows 8, known as Windows RT, could see a major shift in the tablet market in the next 12 months.

While Wang is critical of Microsoft's decision to go into direct competition with its OEM partners, he seems convinced that Windows 8, and in particular Windows RT is the only option for Acer in the short term.

"The keyboard is still a necessity but touch is becoming a fashion and necessary feature," he says. "Windows combines the touch and the keyboard. If you don't have touch you are antique."

Windows 8 will launch on 26 October and Microsoft will launch its Surface tablets alongside it. There is expected to be a slew of laptops, Ultrabooks, touch-enabled laptops and tablets all launching around the same time as OEMs attempt to mark out their territory in the early days of Windows 8.