Speaking to an audience of assembled manufacturers, developers, press, and other industry folks at the first of three Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) keynotes, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer noted that “Surface is just a design point.” In the weeks since the Surface announcement, many have wondered whether Microsoft is opening fire on its hardware partners by selling its own PCs. Ballmer’s statement, however, aims to set the record straight.
“Surface is just a design point. It will have a distinct place in what’s a broad Windows ecosystem. And the importance of the thousands of partners that we have that design and produce Windows computers will not diminish. We have a mutual goal with our OEM partners to bring a diversity of solutions, Windows PCs, phones, tablets, servers to market. And what we seek to have is a spectrum of stunning devices, stunning Windows devices. So, every consumer, every business customer can say, ‘I have the perfect PC for me.’ … We’re excited about the work our OEM partners are doing on Windows 8.”
Now, of course, Ballmer would say something like that at a conference targeted at its partners, but it’s also accurate. The Surface will only be sold through Microsoft Stores, as previously revealed, and the Redmond-based company’s goal is to sell “a few million” devices before the end of the year. This leaves plenty of room for Windows 8 and Windows RT devices from Microsoft’s longstanding partners. Surface is exciting, but it’s merely a jumping off point for the next generation of computing devices running Windows.