HP PC chief: Surface is 'kludgey,' not really competition

Todd Bradley says the tablet tends to be slow, is expensive, and is getting more attention than it deserves.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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Is HP's ElitePad competition for the Microsoft Surface?
Is HP's ElitePad competition for the Microsoft Surface? Eric Franklin/CNET

Hewlett-Packard isn't overly impressed with Microsoft's Surface tablet.

Speaking in an interview published yesterday with IDG Enterprise, HP PC business chief Todd Bradley said that his company could "hardly call Surface competition," adding that the Microsoft-branded tablet is quite flawed.

"One, very limited distribution," Bradley said, listing what he feels are the Surface's greatest flaws. "It tends to be slow and a little kludgey as you use it....It's expensive. Holistically, the press has made a bigger deal out of Surface than what the world has chosen to believe."

Microsoft released the Surface late last month. So far, Microsoft has said that the tablet has generated "modest" sales. In his review of the tablet, CNET senior editor Eric Franklin partially agreed with Bradley's statements, saying that the Surface's "performance can be sluggish." However, he awarded the device a "very good" rating, saying that the "tablet feels strong and well-built."

That one of Microsoft's chief partners in the Windows market would have such negative comments to make about the Surface is somewhat odd. It's even more odd, considering HP has no consumer tablets on the market right now and, according to Bradley, has no plans to deliver such a device until next year at the earliest.

HP does, however, offer a tablet to enterprise customers, called the ElitePad 900. It's possible that Bradley believes the device, which comes with a 10.1-inch screen and can support Windows 8, could face at least some competition with the Surface in the corporate world.

HP isn't the only vendor that has expressed some negativity toward Microsoft for delivering its own tablet. Over the summer, Acer CEO JT Wang said that a Microsoft-branded tablet would disrupt the entire Windows "ecosystem."

"We have said think it over. Think twice," Wang said at the time. "It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at, so please think twice."

The Surface is Microsoft's first tablet and marks a significant shift in company strategy. In the past, Microsoft has been content to only offer software and rely on vendors like HP and Acer to deliver the hardware. That has now changed with Surface.

"If Microsoft is going to do hardware business, what should we do? Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should we find other alternatives?" Wang said.