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Acer's frosty response to the Microsoft Surface

Hardware manufacturer Acer has criticised Microsoft for announcing plans to build its own tablet, the Surface, running on Windows 8.

Microsoft unveiled the Surface at a media event earlier this week, and one of the first questions that arose was how the company’s manufacturing partners would feel about having to compete directly with the company on hardware.

Most were tight-lipped in the aftermath of the launch, but two separate Acer representatives have since come out against the offering.

Speaking to Reuters, Acer’s senior VP and president for EMEA, Oliver Ahrens, says he is worried about Microsoft shifting its resources into building consumer hardware.

"I don’t think it will be successful because you cannot be a hardware player with two products,” Ahrens says.

"Microsoft is working with two dozen PC vendors worldwide... whereas Apple is alone, it can more or less do what it wants.

"Microsoft is a component of a PC system. A very important component, but still a component.”

Acer founder Stan Shih has gone further, suggesting in an interview with Digitimes t hat the Surface is nothing more than a ploy to drive adoption of Windows 8.

Shih, who retired from the Taiwanese company in 2004, says once this goal is achieved, Microsoft is unlikely to sell any more models.

The 67-year-old at least says that OEMs may benefit from the Surface’s effect on the market. Indeed, the fact that Microsoft has unveiled the device months before it’s due to hit the market indicate a desire not to step on the toes of companies who may want to compete using the Windows 8 operating system.

Even so, these rumblings could indicate some deeper misgivings, and Microsoft will have to be careful not to inflame these doubts if it wants to keep the support of its partners.