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Acer Reportedly Seeking Price Assurances on Microsoft Surface

PC-maker Acer is consulting with Microsoft after Redmond's announcement that it is building its own Surface tablets running Windows 8, according to a news report.

The news isn't surprising, but it was attributed to J.T. Wang, chairman and CEO of Acer Inc., in a Digitimes story. On Thursday, Wang reportedly said that Acer doesn't fear the competition with Microsoft, but it "only wishes to understand the new rules of the game, and so will continue to try to communicate with Microsoft to understand the situation."

Microsoft unveiled its line of Surface tablet machines on June 19. Some of its hardware partners building Windows 8 PCs, including Acer, were taken by surprise and were not made aware of the Surface project until its debut.

Wang suggested that Microsoft is considering "creating a price gap to minimize the negative impact on other vendors' product lineups," according to the Digitimes story. At the $499 to $599 price range for a Surface device, the effect would be less severe on partners, according to the story.

Microsoft hasn't announced pricing for Surface, which is being launched on two hardware platforms. The Windows RT version of Surface supporting ARM components is expected to be available when Windows 8 is launched on October 26. Surface Pro, the Windows 8 version based on x86 components, is planned for launch three months later.

The fact that Wang apparently does not know what Microsoft is planning to charge for Surface at this point, two months before launch, shows the difficulties that PC makers face when Microsoft acts as both supplier and competitor.

Wang has publicly criticized Microsoft's move into the tablet hardware space. He reportedly has said that Microsoft should "think twice" about producing its own hardware, saying that "it will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction." Wang suggested that Acer could abandon the Windows platform as a result.

Microsoft has acknowledged the potential harm in a 10-K Form filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. That form states that "our Surface devices will compete with products made by our OEM partners, which may affect their commitment to our [Windows] platform."

Original equipment manufacturers that have indicated forthcoming Windows 8 products include Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba, based on June Computex announcements.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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