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It was only a matter of time before Microsoft’s hardware partners began publicly criticizing the Surface tablet, Microsoft’s first stab at building its own computing hardware.

Acer CEO JT Wang is the first PC maker head to voice his displeasure about the Surface, in an interview with the Financial Times yesterday.

“We have said [to Microsoft] think it over,” Wang told the Financial Times. “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.”

Reading between the lines, the true meaning of Wang’s comments is hard to ignore: He’s terrified of the Surface, because it may just prove that Microsoft doesn’t need to rely on fourth-tier manufacturers like Acer. The sentiment isn’t surprising, after all Microsoft basically betrayed its longstanding arrangement with PC makers by announcing the Surface so close to the launch of Windows 8. With the Surface, Microsoft is getting most of the spotlight with Windows 8 computers, instead of its hardware partners.

Campbell Kan, Acer’s personal computing president, also mentioned to the Financial Times that Acer may have to look at alternative software now that Microsoft is in the hardware game. (Of course Acer has no choice, unless it wants to bet the entire company on Linux.)

Last month, we also saw comments from Acer vice president Oliver Ahrens predicting that the Surface will fail. At this point, Acer isn’t even trying to hide that it’s quaking in its boots over the impending Surface launch.

And the company has good reason to be afraid: When was the last time Acer has made a truly compelling device? Acer may be the fourth-largest PC maker in the world (by shipments), but a stroll through Best Buy will show you that it got there by building cheap, low-quality machines. If Microsoft can deliver the Surface at a low price, Acer can kiss much of its business goodbye.

Photo James Pikover/VentureBeat


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