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Lenovo and Microsoft: A Week of Coopetition

Lenovo and Microsoft get close, Lenovo and Microsoft push each other away.

The strains of being an operating system vendor, reliant on your OEM partners one day and then simultaneously competing with them another day, came into full view this week in the Microsoft-Lenovo relationship.

First, the happy face of the partnership.

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore (left) with Lenovo's Dilip Bhatia at the San Francisco launch event of the new Yoga devices. Source: Microsoft.

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore was on hand in San Francisco this week for Lenovo's launch of two Windows 10-optimized devices, the Lenovo YOGA 900 Convertible Laptop and the Lenovo YOGA Home 900 Portable All-in-One Desktop.

Belfiore blogged, "Windows 10 was designed to help people do great things, and these new Lenovo YOGA devices were built to maximize Windows 10's incredible features. We worked closely behind the scenes with Lenovo to ensure its new products really brought to life the best of Windows 10, and we're excited to see customers' reactions to these new YOGA PCs."

The Yoga 900 Convertible Laptop (top) and the Yoga Home 900 Portable All-in-One (bottom). Source: Microsoft.

Now, the angry face of the relationship.

At a recent Canalys Channels Forum, Lenovo COO Gianfranco Lanci reportedly told attendees that Microsoft approached Lenovo about reselling the Surface Pro, a deal that both Dell and HP accepted. "I said no to resell their product," The Register last week reported Lanci as saying. "[Microsoft] asked me more than one year ago, and I said no I don't see any reason why I should sell a product from within brackets, competition."

As Lanci reportedly put it, Lenovo views Microsoft as a "partner on certain things" and a "competitor" on others. Microsoft, with many similar relationships (see Salesforce.com, Oracle, SAP, Dell, HP, IBM, etc.), surely also views things the same way.

In light of Microsoft's surprise decision to release its own Surface Book laptop, Lanci is probably even happier about his decision to rebuff that Surface Pro resale offer.

Posted by Scott Bekker on October 20, 2015 at 4:37 PM