Memo to Surface-bashing OEMs: At least Microsoft is trying. What have you done lately?

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Microsoft Surface Critics

I’m obviously not above criticizing Microsoft (MSFT) myself, but I am getting somewhat annoyed by all the Windows OEMs that keep taking potshots at the Surface. The latest anti-Surface outburst came from  HP’s (HPQ) PC boss Todd Bradley, who called the Surface “slow and a little kludgey” and said that it barely qualifies as competition. While some of this criticism may be warranted, it should never be uttered by the likes of HP. Why? Because poor performance from Windows OEMs is one of the reasons Microsoft felt compelled to make its own hardware in the first place.

If you don’t believe me, ask HP CEO Meg Whitman, who admitted this fall that her company’s laptops in the past have felt more like “bricks” and that the company in general hasn’t “kept up with the innovation” in terms of making its laptops thinner and more attractive.

And this isn’t just an HP problem, it’s a problem with the entire industry. Consider that Apple (AAPL) first released its MacBook Air back in 2008 and it took three years — three years! — for a company to devote serious resources to do something comparable for PCs as Intel (INTC) did with its ultrabook initiative. (And no, Dell’s (DELL) Adamo line really doesn’t count.)

I’ll put it to you like this: Until this year, I had been a loyal Windows user all my life. When offered a chance to have Macs at my previous job, I stubbornly refused because Windows was what I felt comfortable using. But once I got goaded into using a MacBook Air when I came aboard at BGR (and yes, this is where you can insert your “LOL iSHEEP!” jokes), my first reaction was, “Where have you been all my life?”

As someone who was used to lugging around one of Lenovo’s truly brick-like ThinkPads at trade shows, this super-slim, super-light computer was a Godsend. And not only that, but it booted up instantly and didn’t come with all the annoying OEM bloatware that Windows users have tolerated all these years.

And this is what I like about the Surface. It’s Microsoft’s attempt to tell its OEMs that they’ve been doing it wrong.

No, it’s not a perfect device and no it won’t be an “iPad killer.” But it’s a start. It’s the first device I’ve seen that has credibly melded tablet and PC functionality. It also shows that Microsoft is willing to take risks and isn’t just blindly scrambling around trying to copy Apple. And most importantly, it’s a hell of a lot more innovative and creative than anything HP has put out in recent memory.

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