Mary Jo Foley
Best Argument: No
Throwing everyone under the bus
While the Microsoft's new tablets and Windows Phone 8 devices appear -- on the Surface -- to be a huge leap forward in Microsoft's evolution, they are indeed bad news for the end-user.
With Surface, Microsoft seeks to demolish the very same 30-year-old industry that it worked so hard to create with the support of the OEMs and the users who depended on them and provided the company with so much revenue for so many years.
Hurting the OEMs' ability to compete and moving towards a direct manufacturing model hurts the end user because it will reduce choice, and threatens to establish the company as a monopolistic, closed-off ecosystem.
If the OEMs fail because of Surface's success, it will mean the loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector, particularly for OEMs such as Dell and HP that have a strong base of US operations, as well as other companies which support the OEM ecosystem such as resellers and distributors.
If Microsoft chooses a direct sales approach for Surface, retail will also suffer and it will also result in lost jobs. Despite what you might think, not all of this will come at the expense of Asian companies.
Microsoft has also hurt their early adopters and manufacturers of Windows Phone 7 devices by significantly changing the requirements for Windows Phone 8 and making all previous hardware incompatible.
This may sound trivial given the company's pitiful market share in the smartphone space, but displaying such a willingness to abandon customers and orphan products cannot possibly bode well for the users who were duped into thinking they had a migration path and the manufacturers and carriers which signed on as partners.
To quote my colleague James Kendrick-- Microsoft, it seems, is perfectly content to throw literally everyone under the bus.
The Surface: Where the rubber (or VaporMg) meets the Windows 8 road
Mary Jo Foley
If you had told me a few years ago -- even last year -- that my next PC might be from Microsoft, I would have called you crazy.
But if the Softies can get battery life up and device weight down, I'm seriously contemplating buying a Surface.
Microsoft may have thrown its OEMs under the bus with the Surface, but after years of putting up with bad trackpads, crapware-infested hardware and too many me-too clunkers, I’m not shedding any tears.
I'm not one of those who won't look Microsoft's way if they don't undercut the price of an iPad or ultrabooks that are on the market. I am willing to pay more for a solidly designed, distinctive looking, decent-performing Pablet (PC-tablet). As I noted in our debate this week, Apple users aren't the only ones willing to pay a fair price for a nice machine ( or a nice hotel, apparently).
For me, the hardware that could end up making Windows 8 palatable just might be Microsoft-branded. The touch/type keyboards, the built-in kickstand, the scratch-free VaporMg casing might help me stomach the changes Microsoft is making to its operating system.
Welcome to the weird, new Windows world.
Users could benefit
Microsoft's big bet on the Surface -- and alienation of the ecosystem -- may have thrown OEMs under a bus, but users could benefit. Jason and Mary Jo debated how Microsoft's moves would impact users. The reality is we don't know. Overall, though, Mary Jo made a more compelling argument. Sometimes you have to rattle your partners if you want to compete.