How refreshing! Meg Whitman punctures the myth of vendor partnerships

Anyone who didn’t think Microsoft(s msft) and Hewlett-Packard(s hpq) have been competing as much as collaborating hasn’t been paying attention for, oh, the last 3, 4, 5 years. But the growing tension — which spiked when Microsoft said it would build its own Surface devices — was always spackled over.

Microsoft’s subsequent decision to buy Nokia’s handset business and its explicitly stated goal of becoming a “devices and services” company put all doubt to rest, except none of the big wigs really admitted it.

Until this week, when HP CEO¬†Meg Whitman came clean in a speech to analysts. She cited “profound changes in the competitive landscape. Our competitors are expanding across the IT stack. Current partners like Intel and Microsoft are turning from partners into outright competitors.”

Signs have been there for a long time, since even before the Microsoft Vista debacle that badly injured hardware partners, and the promised-but-never-delivered HP Windows Azure appliance.

All I can say is: What a relief. Now these competitors can get down to business without all the coopetition B.S. They’ve all got their own clouds, hardware,¬†software, services and management tools all vying for the same enterprise customers.

Welcome to Thunderdome. Let the games begin.