So Microsoft has gone and done it.
The company has sold operating systems for other companies’ computers for more than 30 years. Sticking to the software and letting other people deal with the hardware side is what made Microsoft the multinational behemoth that dominated the computing landscape through the 1990s and much of the 2000s. MS-DOS; 16-bit Windows 1, 2, and 3; the hybrid Windows 95 family; and the 32-bit (and, later, 64-bit) Windows NT family that is still with us to this day: all were sold primarily to computer OEMs for preinstallation on new machines.
With Surface, Microsoft is diving headlong into a new business model. Let’s be blunt here: Redmond is going the Cupertino route. Microsoft is not merely writing the software. It’s designing hardware to go with that software, and contracting manufacturers in the Far East to turn its designs into millions of units of real, shipping hardware, that Microsoft will be selling directly to customers.