SEATTLE — Around the time the iPad came out more than two years ago, Microsoft executives got an eye-opening jolt about how far Apple would go to gain an edge for its products.
西雅图——大约是在两年前，iPad 面世前后，微软 (Microsoft) 的高管们被震惊了。苹果公司 (Apple) 为了自己的产品赢得先机所做出的努力，让他们大开眼界。
Microsoft learned through industry sources that Apple had bought large quantities of high-quality aluminum from a mine in Australia to create the distinctive cases for the iPad, according to a former Microsoft employee involved in the discussions, who did not wish to be named talking about internal matters.
据一位知情的微软前雇员所说，当时微软从产业内部得到消息，苹果从澳大利亚的一家矿场大批购买了高质量的铝，用来生产 iPad 独特的外壳。因为涉及内部事务，该员工不愿透露姓名。
上周，微软的 Windows 部门主管史蒂文·辛诺夫斯基在洛杉矶展示 Surface 平板电脑。
The executives were stunned by how deeply Apple was willing to reach into the global supply chain to secure innovative materials for the iPad and, once it did, to corner the market on those supplies. Microsoft’s executives worried that Windows PC makers were not making the same kinds of bets, the former employee said.
苹果公司将触角伸进全球供应链，确保生产 iPad 所需的创新材料的供应，并且进而垄断供应，控制市场。这使得微软高管们深为震惊。这位前雇员说，他们担心 Windows 个人电脑的生产商没有投入这么大的博弈。
The incident was one of many over the last several years that gradually pushed Microsoft to create its own tablet computer, unveiled last week. The move was the most striking evidence yet of the friction between Microsoft and its partners on the hardware side of the PC business. It is the first time in Microsoft’s almost four-decade history that the company will sell its own computer hardware, competing directly with the PC makers that are the biggest customers for the Windows operating system.
类似的事件在过去几年中发生过多次，它们逐步促使微软制造了自己的平板电脑，并于上周面世。微软的这一举动，明确地凸显出公司与个人电脑硬件领域合作伙伴之间的摩擦。在公司近四十年的历史中，这将是微软第一次销售自己的电脑硬件产品，与 Windows 操作系统最大的客户群——个人电脑生产商——形成直接的竞争。
For hardware makers, the PC market has long been a struggle because Microsoft and Intel, maker of the microprocessors that power most computers, have long extracted most of the spoils from the industry, leaving slim profits for the companies that make them. Manufacturers pay hefty fees to license Windows from Microsoft, putting pressure on them to make computers as cheaply as possible using commodity parts.
长期以来，硬件生产商在个人电脑市场上的处境已经颇为窘迫了，因为微软和微处理器制造商英特尔公司 (Intel) 一直瓜分着行业内的大部分利润，留给他们的部分非常微薄。硬件生产商要付给微软高额费用来取得使用 Windows 系统的授权，因此，他们只有采用商品化的配件来生产尽可能廉价的电脑。
That, in turn, has limited their ability to take the kinds of risks on hardware innovation that have helped define the iPad. Furthermore, with the iPad, Apple has proved that there are significant advantages to designing hardware and software together. When separate companies, each with its own priorities, handle those chores, integrating hardware and software can be more challenging.
这进而束缚了他们的手脚，不能去冒险进iPad那样的硬件创新。而且，苹果用 iPad 证明，同时开发硬件和软件是有显著优势的。因为不同的公司各有各的业务考虑，当它们分头开发硬件和软件的时候，软硬件的整合就显得更困难。
“You’ve got this sclerotic partnership structure where the partners don’t have any oxygen to be innovative,” said Lou Mazzucchelli, an entrepreneur in residence for a venture capital fund backed by the state of Rhode Island and a former technology analyst. “I believe Microsoft was painted into a corner. If they’ve didn’t move soon, Apple would have so much of a lead, it would be almost impossible to catch them.”
“这种合作模式非常僵化，合作伙伴没有进行创新的空间，”洛乌·马祖凯利 (Lou Mazzucchelli) 说。他是罗得岛州支持的一家风险投资基金的常驻企业家，以前是技术分析师。“我认为，微软被逼到了墙角。如果不尽快行动，苹果的领先优势将无法追赶。”
Steven Guggenheimer, a Microsoft corporate vice president, said in a statement that the company’s hardware partners were not a factor in Microsoft’s decision to create a tablet computer of its own. “Microsoft has tremendous respect for our hardware partners and the innovation they bring to the Windows ecosystem,” Mr. Guggenheimer said. “We are looking forward to the incredible range of new devices they are bringing out for Windows 8.”
微软的公司副总裁史蒂文·古根海默 (Steven Guggenheimer) 在一份声明中说，公司决定生产自己的平板电脑并非针对微软的硬件合作伙伴。“微软极其尊敬硬件合作伙伴，以及他们给 Windows 系列产品带来的创新，”古根海默说。“我们期待他们为 Windows 8 带来更多惊人的新设备。”
One of the best illustrations of how Microsoft came to the decision to create its new tablet, the Surface, is the company’s sometimes rocky relationship with Hewlett-Packard, the world’s biggest maker of PCs. Even before the iPad was announced in early 2010, Microsoft executives understood that computers were on the verge of a transformation, to touch-based controls from keyboards and mice.
微软与世界最大的个人电脑生产商惠普 (Hewlett-Packard) 之间的关系最好地解释了微软为什么要制造新平板电脑 Surface。两者的关系时有起伏。即便是在2010年初，iPad面世之前，微软的高管就知道，电脑正面临从鼠标键盘到触摸式控制的转型。
With rumors swirling about Apple’s pending introduction of the iPad, H.P. and Microsoft scrambled to create a new tablet computer, a prototype of which Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, showed during a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 6, 2010.
当时风传苹果即将推出 iPad，惠普和微软慌忙着手研制新平板电脑。2010年1月6日，微软首席执行官史蒂夫·鲍尔默 (Steven A. Ballmer) 在拉斯维加斯举办的国际消费电子展 (CES) 上做主题演讲时，向听众介绍了它的原型。
When it came to making a finished device though, the H.P. tablet — later named the H.P. Slate 500 — began to change for the worse, according to the former Microsoft executive and a former H.P. executive who worked on the project and requested anonymity in discussing internal matters. While its early visual designs impressed many people within the two companies, the product was “completely ruined” as H.P.’s manufacturing organization began to procure the parts they believed would be sufficient to power the device, the former Microsoft employee said.
根据微软前高管，及另一位参与过该项目的惠普前高管的说法，这款后来被称为惠普 Slate 500 的平板电脑在从原型走向定型的过程中出了问题。Slate 500 起初的视觉设计让两家公司的不少人刮目相看，但是，据这位微软前员工说，当惠普的制造部门开始采购他们认为足够驱动该设备的部件时，产品的设计“完全毁了”。因涉及内部事务，两人都要求匿名。
In the end, the H.P. tablet was thick, the Intel processor it used made the device hot, and the software and screen hardware did not work well together, causing delays whenever a user tried to perform a touch action on its screen. “It would be like driving a car, and the car not turning when you turn the wheel,” the former H.P. executive said.
最终，惠普造出来的平板电脑很厚，所采用的英特尔处理器又使它很烫，软件还和屏幕的硬件也不太兼容，用户每次点触屏幕都有迟滞。 “就像是开车的时候转动方向盘，车却不转弯，” 那位惠普前高管说。
That kind of problem was unacceptable, especially after Steven P. Jobs, then Apple’s chief executive, unveiled the first iPad, to glowing reviews, just three weeks after the H.P. device was shown.
这种问题实在不能接受。尤其是，惠普的产品面世三周之后，苹果当时的首席执行官史蒂夫·乔布斯 (Steven P. Jobs) 就发布了第一代 iPad，受到热烈的好评。
Microsoft worked with other hardware partners to devise products that would be competitive with the iPad, but it ran into disagreements over designs and prices. “Faith had been lost” at Microsoft in its hardware partners, including by Steven Sinofsky, the powerful president of Microsoft’s Windows division, according to the former Microsoft executive.
微软也曾和其他硬件合作伙伴一起，试图制造出能与 iPad 匹敌的产品，但却不能在设计和价格上与他们达成一致。据那位微软前高管说，包括 Windows 部门的强势主管史蒂文·辛诺夫斯基 (Steven Sinofsky) 在内，微软的人都对他们的硬件合作伙伴“失去了信心”。
H.P. fumed at Microsoft for not doing more to create Windows software that was better suited to touch-screen devices. Executives complained that Windows 7’s keyboard software did not work well, and that on-screen icons were too small for fingers to tap.
惠普也很恼火，认为微软没能生产出更适应触摸屏设备的 Windows 软件。惠普的高管们抱怨说，Windows 7 的键盘软件运行不良，而且屏幕上的图标太小，手指点起来很困难。
Microsoft refused to commit significant resources to help H.P., partly because the company was devoting its energy to Windows 8, a new version of its operating system being tailored for touch-screen devices.
微软则拒绝投入较多的资源协助惠普，这一部分是因为它的精力都放在开发 Windows 8 上面了。Windows 8 是专供触屏设备使用的新一代操作系统。
Some who study the technology industry still believe Microsoft will get out of the business of selling its own tablet computer as soon as it can persuade other hardware companies to build compelling devices of their own. “I think once they jump-start it, they plan to make money the way they always have — from licensing software,” said Michael A. Cusumano, a management professor at M.I.T.
一些研究技术产业的人士仍然认为，只要能说服其他硬件厂商生产出有竞争力的平板电脑，微软就会撤出，不再自己生产。“ 我认为，微软的计划是，一旦把这事启动起来，他们就会回到原先的赢利模式去――通过软件授权，”麻省理工学院的管理学教授迈克尔·库苏马诺 (Michael A. Cusumano) 说。
In a nod to Apple’s work with aluminum, Microsoft began to closely study materials that could be used to create a distinctive case for a tablet. Members of the Windows team gravitated toward magnesium, a lightweight metal that felt good to testers when held in their hands, according to the former Microsoft executive.
Last week, Microsoft executives spent a significant portion of their presentation describing the magnesium case of Surface, which they described as strong and scratch-resistant. “The case is one-of-a-kind,” Mr. Sinofsky said, holding the gray device in his hands.
上周，微软的高管在介绍 Surface 平板电脑时，将很大一部分时间用来描述它的镁外壳，说它强度高且耐剐蹭。“这种外壳是独一无二的，” 辛诺夫斯基将这款灰色平板电脑拿在手里时，这样说道。