It may not be as black and white as having 'lost' faith. There is an interdependence between Microsoft and its Windows OEMs.
Microsoft even now, completely depends on them to either sell Windows for Microsoft or at the very least create/update new computers that Windows can run on.
And of course, Microsoft is heavily dependent on them to spend money continuously to successfully crank out constantly improving hardware; a complex endeavor. Every new CPU Intel or AMD comes out with requires ore of this work.
By the same token, for many years, the Windows OEMs depended on Microsoft to do its part. A case where that didn't happen was the well over half a decade gap between Windows XP and Windows 7. During that time, Longhorn didn't even ship and Vista was a disaster. Some Windows PC makers got sued because stickers on the units said they were compatible with the next version of Windows and they weren't.
Everybody makes mistakes. Companies do not like to pay for other companies' mistakes.
- Apple only has to worry about its manufacturers and if one messes up they both probably realize what it will do, if necessary
- Google, parent/copyright issues aside, does not really have to worry too much about what its individual OEMs might do. The OEMs principally have to worry about Google in 3 respects: updates keep coming quickly/steady that improve Android, no serious flaws/problems/issues, integrating Google stuff with OEM's stuff.
- Microsoft and Windows OEMs constantly have to worry about each other. Licenses are constantly expiring and needing to get renewed and neither one completely knows in advance what the new Windows OEM license fee will be. I already mentioned the need for timely non-flakey new OS versions, which has been a serious problem. Plus, as hinted, if OEM's don't constantly update their hardware then PC buyers will drift to another OS leaving Microsoft and perhaps the Windows OEMs on the lurch.
The things that changed in recent years are:
1. Apple is the Langolier; if anyone dawdles, Apple's relentless march will trample them. A dozen to 15 years ago, that didn't seem like a danger. Today, Windows OEMs are probably worried that even at a full tilt spring, Apple might still trample them. Apple has also driven the price of software and hardware way down. At the same time, Apple raised the quality bar much higher than it used to be.
2. Windows OEMs are largely not one trick ponies anymore. They won't die without Windows. They can sell Android and/or Chromebooks. Some even sell PCs with Linux instead of Windows.
3. Microsoft's Ballmer explicitly declaring 'war' on Google might miffed Google. Notice that Ballmer was threatening them as a company, Microsoft launched Live Search [later renamed to something like Ging or Bing] to compete with Google head on [and fail], and vociferously tried to steal Google's revenue stream with that acquisition/debt/write-of fueled web ad project that somehow soured. When Microsoft undertook these 3 things, Google responded with: Chrome vs. Internet Explorer [Chrome clearly won], Chromebook [low sales maybe but low price for sure], Android [incredibly high]. Plus, even before that Google came out with Gmail and then the whole Google Office suite which does compete in big dollar contracts with Microsoft. Whatever wings Microsoft had that Apple didn't clip, Google clipped to various degrees.
It is important to note that so far, Surface Pro is vapor-hardware. It is not ready yet. It is not here until it is here. Just because Microsoft said in the past they are coming out with it doesn't mean it is shipping in a few weeks.
Companies with these kinds of relationships are going to be constantly subtly shifting their position/weight around. Once in a while they will do it not so subtly.
Microsoft had Windows OEMs under its thumb for better than a decade, making itself kind of the only game in town for them. Now, Windows is far from the only game in town. It is not as fun or cheap as it used to be either.
Adjusting strategies, public positions, and product announcements/directions doesn't automatically mean that trust has died — or that it ever existed without qualification before.
Leadership of most of these companies at the top and/or software head position has changed a time or two in the past five years. That changes things like trust sometimes but things like perspective usually too.
Microsoft kind of created the circumstances where stagnation in its own closed, proprietary ecosystem was inevitable to protect its control.
Microsoft made some missteps too by falling behind at web & OS software which made effects of Apple's "doing a good job" [understating things a bit] that much more pronounced on Windows OEMs' business.
As I see it, regardless of who did what to create the situation the effects were still real and had to be dealt with.
If Microsoft did not do something to change the situation, even if it was its own fault for existing in the first place, the stagnation was going to hurt everybody quite badly and/or amplify the current Windows/IE/Office exodus going on in the marketplace. If one of those 3 pillars falls, the roof comes down.
I think they have overdramatized how big an advance Windows 8 is but it did not come too soon or too late. So far, Surface is just a 'nudge' isn't it?
I think the $11 billion in debt on Microsoft's balance sheet is more eye-catching and long term risk than, "Oh, geez, the second computer they ever make might be slightly overpriced when it comes". If their x86 laptop was slightly underpriced, that would be a much worse pickle, right?