snydeq writes "Microsoft's plan to build its own Windows 8 tablets puts longtime allies in peril — and it may be the right thing to do. 'In announcing the Surface tablets, due to be released this fall, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer cited Apple's advantage (without mentioning Apple) of integrated software and hardware. "Things work better when hardware and software are considered together," he said. "We control it all, we design it all, and we manufacture it all ourselves." ... Like Apple, Microsoft will hire a few PC makers to do the actual production work. But the need for 20 brands of me-too laptops, tablets, and convertibles is low. Manufacturing sophisticated electronics is a skill requiring manufacturing innovation. But all those branded-but-otherwise-undifferentiated PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones just aren't needed in the vision Ballmer sketched out yesterday.'"