With the launch of its Surface tablet computer, Microsoft is becoming a genuine ‘‘frenemy’’ — part friend, part enemy — to its longtime manufacturing partners. Since its founding 37 years ago, the Redmond, Wash., company has had a mutual understanding with makers of computer hardware: Microsoft creates software. Companies such as Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo pay Microsoft a licensing fee to place the Windows operating system on the desktop PCs, notebooks, and other gadgets they market to consumers. Now, Microsoft is complicating the cozy relationship by making and marketing its own tablet computer.
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