What iOS 6 means for Microsoft: not a damn thing

What iOS 6 means for Microsoft: not a damn thing

Summary: What do Apple's WWDC announcements mean for Microsoft and its Windows 8 plans? Nothing.

TOPICS: Windows

Aren't you tired of people pitting Apple against Microsoft in the mobile space? I am.

Sure, the two tech giants compete directly, but one is the market leader and the other is just getting off the ground. If Microsoft just launched its mobile rocket, Apple's already on the moon.

In the desktop space, of course, it's the other way around.

So it's not really fair to write a post like Brian Caulfield did over at Forbes, attempting to gauge just how much the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system matters to the folks in Redmond.

If Microsoft screws up with its effort to stretch a new interface, dubbed ‘Metro,’ across personal computers and tablets with Windows 8, Cook won’t give anyone a reason not to switch.

This couldn't be further from the truth.

Most Americans in the publishing industry use Apple products -- I'm typing this on a Macbook Pro -- but in return the view can be extremely limited. The truth is this: worldwide, Microsoft dominates the desktop space (92% vs. Apple's 6%); Apple dominates the mobile space (relative to Microsoft), feature phones excepted; and neither company gives a lick what the other is doing.

That's not to say there isn't a lot of pressure on Microsoft to succeed with its Metro-ified Windows 8; there have not been higher expectations for the company since it released Windows XP, in the heyday of the desktop experience. (In many ways, the Windows 8 launch more closely resembles the Windows 3.1-Windows 95 progression -- a dramatic shift, but still early in the overall maturation of the desktop space.)

But the pressure is all internal. This isn't a question of whether Microsoft can beat Apple; this is a question of whether the company can get its act together to deliver a platform that really works for consumers and businesses across multiple devices.

On the desktop, it's not Windows 8 versus OS X, it's Windows 8 versus Windows 7 -- rolling out a product that's worth upgrading to.

In mobile, it's not Windows 8 versus iOS 6, it's Windows Phone 8 versus Windows Phone 7 -- rolling out a product that's mature enough to take on the competition directly.

So when Apple makes its announcements this afternoon, Microsoft might be watching, but only in passing interest. It's got bigger fish to fry -- namely, executing on its plans and making the right moves to make it easier to do so. (Should it acquire Nokia? I argue yes. So does Matthew Miller.)

Our editor-in-chief Larry Dignan says Microsoft deserves some credit for putting its cash cow on the line. I think his point illustrates mine nicely: Redmond's biggest rival right now is itself, not Apple.

Author's note: The original version of this post included mobile statistics which, in hindsight, I don't have a high degree of confidence in. I've stripped them out, though it doesn't change the argument.

Topic: Windows

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • I Agree

    Impressive analysis, and spot on. Not the normal when discussing Apple and Microsoft, but is should be!
  • Be wary of buying Nokia...

    ...until you know exactly how much they owe for the WCDMA spectrum they bought with borrowed cash from the German government worker's pension plan and didn't use. It's a LOT, like the total debt of the United States lot...
    Tony Burzio
    • A fair point

      ...though it's clear we're not looking at the nitty-gritty financials when we're making that recommendation. That's for Ballmer to worry about.

      In any case, that kind of decision comes down to this: is it more expensive to build, or to buy? I wonder.
  • You must be joking, right?

    I swapped from Microsoft to Apple because Microsoft annoyed me and because I was told that Apple was better. If Apple was not as good, then I would not have. Now that Vista is out of the way, I am thinking of swapping back. Well, that's what I thought, but now I worry about W8 and think that I might wind up buying 6 macs and 2 pcs for work and not the other way around because... Well, you get the picture.

    Put a different way: if Microsoft irritates you are you going to either a) swap to a different operating system, or b) not buy another computer. If Apple irritates you are you going to a) go the 'droid, or b) not bother replacing your phone? Duh.

    Contrary to what ccrockett said, this is not "analysis" this is "opinion", same as you get at a bar or the lunch room.
    • You're speaking from one point of view.

      And one use case. In the desktop arena, Microsoft's challenge isn't wooing back guys like you (and me) from Apple, it's preserving the lead it already has. In mobile, it's putting in place a platform that will eventually succeed this. And since this is ZDNet, let's not forget the impact of the enterprise and SMB markets, as well as emerging regions globally.

      By the way -- we don't mind being the tech industry water cooler here at ZDNet. The difference between us and the folks gathered at your office/bar/cafeteria is that we spend 8, 10, 12 hours a day immersed in all of it, talking to executives and customers and analysts to figure out what's going on (and what will go on in the near future).

      Nothing wrong with basing your views on your personal experiences, or perhaps on what you've read in upstanding tech publications, but we'd like to think we're a bit more prepared than the average person to connect the dots. We're certainly trying.
      • You said that right

        After playing around with Windows 8 it's MHO that the learning curve is too steep for the average user. I cannot see my wife buying into it. When they stop support for Win7, I'll either have switched my computers to Mac or installed something like Mint. (assuming the cinnamon suck on resources gets resolved). I have a 27" iMac for my personal use for my photography.
  • Pretty much sums up bloggers knowledge...

    "Most Americans in the publishing industry use Apple products ??? I???m typing this on a Macbook Pro "

    - This pretty much sums up bloggers knowledge about technology
    • Not really.

      That pretty much sums up why bloggers talk about Apple a lot. (Too much, really.) Because they put their money where their mouth is.
    • Not really +1

      More likely it sums up the type of people who can appreciate a better platform.

      Unlike you, who clearly can't handle the fact that even ONE person might have the temerity to be NOT inextricably wedded to Microsoft.
  • Of course Miller lovesWP7

    Should it acquire Nokia? I argue yes. So does Matthew Miller. Miller is a Microsoft employee, so anything that helps Microsoft, helps Miller. What I have an issue with isthe constant lies about his loyalties.
    Jumpin Jack Flash
    • Hmmm.

      >>Miller is a Microsoft employee, so anything that helps Microsoft, helps Miller.
      You mean Matt Miller aka palmsolo. Could you please provide links to validate your claim that he is Microsoft Employee.
      Ram U
      • You'd hope he was getting paid as...

        "invite-only Microsoft Mobius mobile device evangelist group." This is why he never has anything critical to say about Window Phone 7...
        Jumpin Jack Flash
    • Miller is a naval architect.

      Enough with the conspiracy theories. Really.
      • From Miller's Bio

        "Matthew co-authored Master Visually Windows Mobile 2003, was a member of the Nokia Nseries Blogger relations program, and is a member of the invite-only Microsoft Mobius mobile device evangelist group."
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • @JJF

        [b]"Matthew co-authored Master Visually Windows Mobile 2003, was a member of the Nokia Nseries Blogger relations program, and is a member of the invite-only Microsoft Mobius mobile device evangelist group."[/b]

        This does NOT constitute proof that Miller is a paid Microsoft employee or compensated by Microsoft in any way. I beta tested Guild Wars, City of Heroes, and Star Wars The Old Republic but I am not employed by any of the design firms or any of the game studios. All this proves is that he is biased towards Microsoft - which is obvious as he likes his WP7 device. I'm biased towards Apple as far as mobile devices as I like my iPhone, HTC as I think the Thunderbolt is the best Android device I've used, Barnes and Noble as I like my Nook Color, and yes towards Microsoft as I like Windows 7. None of that means I'm getting paid or even any swag for any of those companies.

        So your fanatical conspiracy theory is - without any proof in the form of pay stubs - just that: a theory.
      • @JJF and other ABMers

        What's the matter fellas, can't handle the truth? Sucks to be YOU then.
      • NonFanboy

        I can handle the truth, I've only posted it on here several times. ZDNet's system can't handle the truth. Basically [b]Miller is a Zealous advocate for WP 7[/b] (according to dictionary.com). That is one of the definitions of an Evangelist. It's also the least inflammatory one. The others would indicate that WP 7 was some sort of cult like religion, which is a pretty scarey thought.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Better than being a navel architect!

    • I keep asking you

      to provide proof that Miller is a Microsoft employee or getting bribed by Microsoft and yet all I get are insults and no proof. If you cannot back this theory up with facts let it go...
      • @JJF

        Typical rabid fanatic fanboi behavior - you can't refute my words so you invent multiple personalities and vote me down and flag me... I'm not sure which of you is worse - you or that ScorpioBlue dude that is very likely you anyhow...

        Come on dude, cough up the proof! Prove me wrong! Prove that Miller is a Microsoft shill... Thing is you are unable to do so and rather than admit your hatred has no real base you'd much rather bury the truth.