HP CEO ties company's woes to competition from Microsoft

Whitman acknowledges reality and joins fellow PC makers in criticizing Microsoft's move into the hardware business.

Hewlett-Packard has joined the ranks of PC makers that say Microsoft's move into hardware sales is exacerbating their business woes.

"HP's traditional highly profitable markets face significant disruption," HP CEO Meg Whitman told Wall Street analysts at the start of a daylong presentation earlier this month. "We are seeing profound changes in the competitive landscape. Current longtime partners, like Intel and Microsoft, are increasingly becoming outright competitors."

With that, struggling HP becomes the largest Microsoft partner to publicly find fault with the software developer's decision to compete directly with its OEM partners by selling hardware of its own design.

Smaller OEMs -- with Acer being particularly vocal -- have been expressing displeasure or concern about Microsoft entering their market for a while. Dell and Lenovo have also publicly opposed Microsoft's move.

When Microsoft introduced its Surface tablets, it initially targeted consumers, but quickly moved on to the enterprise market and started signing up authorized distributors and resellers.

The company's tablets -- the Surface RT, launched a year ago, and the Surface Pro, introduced in February -- haven't broken any sales records, but the company remains bullish. It's set to start selling second-generation models this week.

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