OEMs might complain about Microsoft, but ultimately they'll do as they're told

Windows offers something that neither Linux nor Mac can offer -- compatibility.

Acer CEO JT Wang says that Microsoft needs to " think twice " before pursuing its Surface tablet because the move could well disrupt the ecosystem and upset hardware partners.

In an interview in the Financial Times, Wang said:

We have said [to Microsoft to] think it over. Think twice. It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at so please think twice.

Question is, even if the hardware partners do take "a negative reaction," what are they going to do?

The answer -- nothing.

My ZDNet colleague Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols believes that Microsoft's actions are pushing both users and vendors to Mac and Linux :

It's clear now that Windows 8 is not an operating system that Microsoft's partners or its long-time users can love. Isn't it time to give an  alternative a try ? I think so.  

I don't think so.

I like Linux. I really do. In the same breath, I'm willing to admit that I dislike Windows 8 with a passion. Microsoft might repeatedly use the phrase "fast and fluid" to describe Windows 8, but to me it's "clumsy and impractical". But I'm not sure that Linux is ready to go mainstream, not even if the likes of gaming giant Valve throws its weight behind the platform .

The problem is that Windows give users the one thing that Linux cannot -- compatibility.

When people buy a Windows license, they're not just buying the right to use operating system on a specific piece of hardware, they're also buying a warm and fuzzy feeling that most of the hardware and software they ran on the old operating system will continue to work on the new operating system.

People -- consumers and enterprise users alike -- love the idea of compatibility because it's a handy insurance policy against nasty surprises down the line. We live in a world where the bulk of the software and hardware around us is designed for Windows, and that gives it an enormous advantage when it comes to being able to offer the comfort of compatibility.

Put simply, people want the new stuff to work with the old stuff because it reduces costs and keeps the learning curve shallow. 

The same goes for Apple's OS X. While some people have managed to jump ship and migrate to Apple's platform, as far as most are concerned, Windows is the secret sauce that makes a PC a PC. There's a reason why the Windows market share is 92 percent, and Mac is at 7 percent.

If Windows 8 is going to flop, and Linux isn't going to take its place, and a Mac isn't a PC, then what's going to happen? Simple. Exactly what happened when Windows Vista flopped --- the older operating system will take up the slack.

Enterprises will continue to demand Windows 7. Why? Because the costs of rolling out Windows 8 'properly'will skyrocket due to mass purchase of touch-enabled hardware and additional user interface training. Meanwhile,  OEMs will sell Windows 7 PCs alongside Windows 8 systems because they will find it almost impossible to present the benefits of Windows 8 on desktop systems. Microsoft will once again find itself in a position where it has to offer longer-term support for the older operating system.

Image Gallery: Microsoft Surface tablet

Image source: Microsoft.