HP Admits What We Already Knew: Microsoft Is At War With Its OEM Partners

HP stated the obvious today, clearing the air a bit in the world of personal computing, not to mention other areas of the technology industry. Microsoft, it said, is now a competitor to its business. Of course, we knew this.

HP sells software, services, and devices. So does Microsoft. Here’s the key quote from HP CEO Meg Whitman: “Current [HP] partners like Intel and Microsoft are turning from partners to outright competitors.” Microsoft is no longer content or able to mint money by selling software to partners, corporate clients, and the public. As it moves into services and devices, companies that were partners will retain that status, but also garner a new classification: adversary.

As a company, Microsoft will speak to you in loud tones about how much it loves its OEM partners, such as HP. But its tone shifts when conversation turns to its Surface line of tablets, which, in its view, is top-notch. Hang out with Microsoft teams and you’ll see an encroaching level of Surface usage that will in short order overtake ThinkPad’s former preeminence among the company’s employees.

Microsoft has to bloviate and state that it remains committed to its partners — in part because it is, which is underscored by the simple reality that the company has no choice in the matter; Surface sales are hardly the entire PC market. But at the same time you can’t directly undermine your partners with billions of dollars in investments into your own competing products and not risk slight message incoherence.

So it’s the firm smile and filed statement from Microsoft in this case. HP must be more blunt. Its 330,000-strong workforce is in the process of a promised, multi-year transformation. It can’t afford anything but clarity to its investors who, by and large given its current market capitalization, remain skeptical.

Business Insider points out that HP now discusses a multi-OS strategy, when before it was gung-ho for Windows 8. Well, relationships change and markets shift. HP can’t live a 90s life in this decade, and neither can Microsoft. There is more than sunlight between the two.

Top Image Credit: Meg Whitman for Governor