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Microsoft Pulling a Google: Will Withdraw Later From Tablet Market

Microsoft’s objective in unveiling its new Surface tablet is to prod device makers to bring out Windows 8 tablets, then withdraw from the tablet market once that’s accomplished, according to reported comments from Acer founder Stan Shih.

Microsoft “has no real intention to sell own-brand tablet PCs,” according to a report in Taipei-based Digitimes, citing Shih.

“Once the purpose is realized, Microsoft will not offer more models,” the report said.

Shih reportedly goes on to say that the strategy was conceived as way to “encourage” device makers to bring out Windows 8 tablets. And Microsoft has “no reason” to sell hardware because it is less profitable than licensing software, adding that Shih “analyzed” Microsoft’s strategy in order to reach this conclusion.

Needless to say, this is a positive take on Microsoft’s strategy. A more cynical view holds that Microsoft believes it must bypass PC makers to better compete against Apple and Android. And that a Microsoft-branded tablet undermines those companies, who were given little warning and now must compete against each other and Microsoft at the same time.

That said, Dell offered an upbeat-sounding official comment today. “Microsoft is an important partner to Dell and we look forward to delivering a full slate of Windows 8 tablets — and other products — later this fall,” Dell said in response to an e-mail query.

And Acer’s Shih had more to say in this vein. “Vendors adopting Windows 8 should interpret Microsoft’s intentions positively, as they will benefit from Microsoft’s marketing,” Shih reportedly indicated.

That sounds a lot like Google’s lead-by-example strategy. Google has already done this with its Nexus phone and a Nexus tablet is imminent, according to reports.

CNET has contacted Microsoft for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

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