Ina Fried

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Microsoft’s Loan to Dell Further Complicates Relationship with PC Makers

Microsoft’s already complicated relationship with the PC industry just got considerably more so.

it's complicated

For most of the 30-year history of Windows, Microsoft made the software and the computer makers built the PCs and that was that.

But the world is changing. And quickly.

Finally responding to the challenge post by Apple and Google, Microsoft is trying a number of things to strengthen its competitive position. At the same time, these moves have made its relationship to its key partners anything but straightforward.

Let’s liken the PC industry to a collection of restaurants. Microsoft used to provide food to a bunch of different restaurants, each of which turned it into their signature dishes.

With the arrival of Surface last year, it is as if Microsoft opened a competing restaurant down the block from each of the restaurants that use its food.

And with today’s deal to provide a $2 billion loan to Dell, Microsoft is also now the landlord for one of the biggest restaurants.

For its part, Microsoft says it is doing what it needs to to keep everyone from dining at Apple’s eateries.

“Microsoft is committed to the long term success of the entire PC ecosystem and invests heavily in a variety of ways to build that ecosystem for the future,” the company said in a statement. “We’re in an industry that is constantly evolving. As always, we will continue to look for opportunities to support partners who are committed to innovating and driving business for their devices and services built on the Microsoft platform.”

And, despite taking the billions from Microsoft, Dell also maintains it will be independent of Redmond.

“This is a loan and will not have a direct role in day to day operations of Dell,” Dell said in a statement to AllThingsD, adding that Microsoft will not have a seat on the company’s board.

The company declined to say what, if any, other commitments it has made to Microsoft in terms of using its software. “Dell has had a nearly 30-year strategic relationship with Microsoft and that continues,” the company said, declining further comment.

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