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The Boston Globe

Business

Tablet’s launch pits Microsoft against partners

LOS ANGELES — 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, Hewlett-Packard, 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.

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