Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Dell CEO and founder Michael Dell say that the Surface Book — Microsoft’s first laptop, ever — hasn’t broken up their long-standing friendship, even though it technically puts them at odds.
This conversation took place on stage at Dell’s annual Dell World conference, moderated by Bloomberg TV’s Emily Chang.
“The friendship is about serving our customers. That’s what grounds us,” Nadella says.
Nadella points out that Dell is actually a reseller of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet, helping business customers adopt it at large scales.
“We’re absolutely friends,” says Dell. “I think it’s important to understand that customers want choices.”
Basically, Dell says, Microsoft is using Surface Book to create new opportunities for everyone. Once customers — particularly, enterprise customers — see what Microsoft is up to with the Surface Pro tablet and Surface Book laptop, they want it. But they want it from a vendor they trust at large scales, like Dell.
“He’s the icebreaker, and we’re coming in with the product at volume,” Dell says of Nadella and Microsoft.
Plus, Dell has a wider range of laptops and computers for every price point, meaning Dell can serve a wider range of needs than just Microsoft-branded hardware alone. And Microsoft, for its point, has worked to expand the Surface Pro tablet’s enterprise appeal with a bunch of new programs and features.
But on the contentious issue of Microsoft not looping in its partners like Dell before the launch of Surface Book, Nadella ducked responsibility.
“That was before me,” Nadella says.