Surface will have a "broad place in the Windows ecosystem", but won't lead to a diminishment in Microsoft's relationship with its OEM partners, said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, speaking at Microsoft's Wordwide Partner Conference 2012 in Toronto today.
Ballmer said Surface is "a design point" that will "have a broad place in the Windows ecosystem". He added, however, that Microsoft was determined that launching its own tablet hardware would not harm its existing relationships with the likes of device manufacturers Asus and Lenovo.
"The importance of our partners will not diminish," said Ballmer. "We have a mutual goal towards bringing a diversity of solutions. What we seek to have is a spectrum of stunning Windows devices, so every customer can say 'I have the perfect PC'.
"We may sell a few millions, but we need partners to have that diversity of devices," Ballmer continued. "We're excited about the work our OEM partners are doing with Windows 8 devices."
When asked for more details on Surface's potential place and function in the market, Ballmer was evasive, replying enigmatically that the recently-announced tablet is "a story to be told when it's ready to be told".
Ballmer added that in his opinion Microsoft "did a good job of keeping it a secret", and hinted that more releases are in the pipeline, remarking that the company "may need to keep a few more things a secret as we move forward. There's a real advantage to being able to work [undisturbed]."