Microsoft's relationship with Samsung gets ugly

Of all the OEM relationships to go sour, Microsoft has lost perhaps its most important one.

A while back I commented on the rumor that Samsung was trying to torpedo Windows Phone and harm Microsoft. The idea struck me as ludicrous, not to mention potentially dangerous. Well, it doesn't appear Samsung has to do anything behind the scenes. The war of words is now coming out in public.

Samsung fired the first shots in the Korean press. Jun Dong-soo, president of Samsung’s memory chip division, earlier this month was quoted in the Korea Times newspaper as saying "The global PC industry is steadily shrinking despite the launch of Windows 8. I think the Windows 8 system is no better than the previous Windows Vista platform."

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He went on to say that the rollout of the Surface tablet is "seeing lackluster demand" and the pitch for Ultrabooks simply failed, and "that’s mostly because of the less competitive Windows platform."

He's not the first executive to say this. Asus, Acer and Fujitsu have all publicly criticized Windows 8. Only Lenovo and the two big American players, HP and Dell, have refrained from claiming the emperor has no clothes.

Now, Samsung hasn't been playing nice with anyone. It's run ads slamming iPhone and BlackBerry in addition to Windows, and its Windows Phone 8 efforts have been middling. When you are in as strong a position as Samsung has been, it's easy to get a little cocky.

Well, Microsoft is hitting back. Of all things, it's hitting at the Galaxy S III with commercials that pan it for poor picture quality (seen in the video below). Of all the things in a smartphone to note, Microsoft has decided to take on the Galaxy S III at the camera level by comparing pictures taken with the S III and Lumia 920.

Generally speaking, Microsoft only runs negative ads against competitors. It whacked back at Apple's "I'm a Mac" ads when Apple was tearing into it over Vista and Mac sales were soaring. Those ads stopped after Windows 7 shipped because Apple more or less lost its arguments. They also backfired. Mac came off as a smug jerk while PC was sympathetic, if pathetic.

Lately, it's been the Scroogled ads. Again, Microsoft is attacking a superior competitor because Google has totally slapped Bing around in the online search space.

But here…Samsung hasn't been eating Microsoft's lunch the way Apple and Google have. It's a notebook, tablet and smartphone OEM partner. Yes, the Galaxy S III is a monster hit but there was supposed to be an S III running Windows Phone 8, called the ATIV S. Good luck finding it.

It's not a good sign to see OEM relationships like this fraying. Thus far, it's the Asian providers, but that means Microsoft's market in Asia is going south. Just because HP and Dell are silent doesn't necessarily mean they are happy or approve.

Attacking the S III on its camera is a stretch and it smacks of desperation. Microsoft needs to be repairing this relationship, not fraying it. Samsung is not a partner to be casually dismissed.

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