Microsoft operating chief Kevin Turner said that the company's move to manufacture Surface enabled it to better integrate Windows 8.1 with hardware partners.
The comments could be construed as a way to put some anecdotal return on investment behind Surface sales, which have disappointed. Microsoft on Monday will launch updated Surface devices.
Turner, speaking at Microsoft's financial analyst meeting Thursday, acknowledged that the Surface caused "a lot of consternation in the OEM channel." He added:
In most instances (OEMs) would tell you the progress we made in 8.1 is because we have a first party product at Microsoft is far superior to anything we ever delivered from a hardware software integration standpoint to the OEM partners going forward.
He promised that Microsoft will continue to get better at its own devices as well as integrating with hardware vendors.