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Microsoft's New Model: 'Every Man For Himself'

Stocks in this article: MSFT DELL HPQ AAPL

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I'm starting to hear rumblings that both computer giants Dell (DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) are now starting to feel "betrayed" by Microsoft (MSFT). In its competition with Apple (AAPL), the software giant last week unveiled its Surface tablet, a move that seems to have sent its computer-building partners the message: it is now "every man for himself."

As annoyed as I have become with the idea that both Dell and HP somehow expected a certain level of loyalty from Microsoft, it bothers me even more for them to pretend that the partnership was even remotely working when the numbers show that Apple has been eating their lunch over the past 12 quarters.

Essentially, the message Microsoft sent on Monday was that it had grown tired of being bullied and going hungry -- and for that it shouldn't be blamed. Furthermore, in an interview after the announcement, the company's CEO Steve Ballmer said its PC partners knew about the Surface tablet well in advance of the announcement.

Now, exactly who he was referring to is unknown, but I think it is safe to say that the top two Windows vendors over the past decade certainly would have been on any short list of phone calls made -- at least one would hope.

There are definitely at least two sides to every story. What we know is that Microsoft cloaked the event leading to the announcement with secrecy. First, it announced a press conference, sent invitations to the media, but opted to be purposely vague in terms of its description of the event, except to say that it would make a "major announcement."

So, do HP and Dell have legitimate gripes here? Well according to a recent Reuters article, Microsoft offered its partners the same level of treatment as it did with the press.

The article claims the company did not provide its partners with any details about what it was going to say to the public until three days (Friday) before the announcement. The report claims that its partners didn't even know the tablet was going to be called "Surface." For that matter, they didn't even know it was going to be a tablet. So now what?

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