Do PC makers feel betrayed over Microsoft’s Surface tablet?

When Microsoft pulled the wraps off its Surface tablet earlier this week, I suspected a number of PC manufacturers were going to be both surprised and upset.

Remember, Redmond has been touting Windows 8 RT tablets for a long time now, all while charging vendors significant money for software licenses. Indeed, some sources claim Microsoft is charging approximately $85 per license for Windows RT alone.

This has led to speculation that the tablets be priced somewhere in the $600-$800 range. Although Redmond hasn’t published official pricing for its Surface Tablet just yet, the corporation insists it will be comparable to other ARM tablets and Ultrabooks.

Frankly, at that price, I’m not sure why computer makers are worried. In the $600 to $800 price range, Microsoft won’t be priced lower than Apple and its dominant iPad. I just don’t see people opting for a Surface tablet rather than the iPad or an Ultrabook when Microsoft has a history of not being able to compete well with Apple’s tablet and other devices on the market.

Perhaps one of the reasons PC makers are upset is the secrecy surrounding the project. According to reports, many Microsoft partners had no idea Redmond was going to be unveil a MS branded tablet, which would compete directly with certain key partner offerings. According to insiders at Microsoft, Windows head Stephen Sinofsky made some calls to partners on Friday but didn’t offer any specifics on the tablet.

“As such, Microsoft’s main partners remained ‘in wait-and-see’ mode and had to monitor the news for details, one of the sources said,” Reuters reports.

However, some of Microsoft’s major vendors were apparently left completely out of the loop and only learned about the tablet at the event Monday. Indeed, AppleInsider reports that both Acer and Asus didn’t learn about the tablet until the news conference this past Monday. In Microsoft’s defense, though, complete secrecy is the only way to prevent details from leaking.

“This has always been a point of contention between OEMs and Microsoft – Microsoft getting into the hardware space,” noted another tipster.