iOS vs Surface: Why Apple is not a patch on Microsoft

iOS vs Surface: Why Apple is not a patch on Microsoft

Summary: With its consumer focus, Apple has overlooked the importance for enterprises to be able to control and distribute patches and upgrades. It's a shortcoming to which Microsoft and its Surface tablet will not succumb


Despite all the talk about BYOD and the need to control mobile devices in the enterprise, most of the focus has been on access control and data security.

But as tablets and phones become the standard medium through which employees interact with corporate resources, there are other important managerial issues to be considered. Yes, I'm talking about patches and upgrades.

Could Microsoft's familiarity with the enterprise give the Surface tablet a leg-up?

Most IT departments today are familiar with Patch Tuesday when Microsoft rolls out updates, fixes and security upgrades to existing systems. It's been a regular occurrence since 2003 and is probably a recurring event in the Outlook calendars of most technicians.

With this regularity comes familiarity and security. Remember — a lot of IT departments still don't allow Apple laptops in the office even today.

Enter BYOD and the iPad. The Apple iPad is a new kid on the corporate block, adopted by executives as the must-have device for digesting material and working on the move. But Apple has its own calendar of releasing updates, which may seem strange and unfamiliar. It has its own ways of working and lacks the established number of middle-man companies dedicated to managing and applying these updates.

For enterprise organisations, this is a big deal. The cost of upgrading alone and being subject to the release cycle of an outside entity are not things CIOs are willing to accept as standard operating procedure. Microsoft is familiar territory — Apple tablets are still reasonably new and non-standard.

Here comes Microsoft

Enter Microsoft, with its tablet offering, Microsoft Surface. As I've said, most large enterprises are already familiar with Microsoft technologies and Microsoft is well versed in dealing with the eccentricities of the enterprise, which upgrade and patch on their own schedule according to their own needs and budgets.

The ability to integrate Microsoft Surface tablets into the mix more seamlessly than yet another vendor platform may give the giant the edge it needs to make its tablet stick.

The ability to control and distribute patches, upgrades and applications is one that should not be underestimated, but is sadly overlooked by Apple with its consumer focus.

Downloading a single patch file and distributing to hundreds or thousands of devices on a schedule that does not overtax the network is something organisations do regularly today, mostly due to the frequency with which Microsoft has tended to patch and update in the past decade.

But for Apple this is unfamiliar territory. An organisation standardising on Apple iOS may find its network suddenly overwhelmed when every device connected attempts to download and install the latest patch pushed — and required — by Apple.

Android devices, too, with their origins in open source, lack managerial systems through which updates and upgrades and patches can be pushed in a manner appropriate to enterprises. However, Android's openness will probably lead to a market of solutions and integration with more mobile device management than the closed, proprietary Apple.

BYOD may give Microsoft the edge

Still, as enterprises continue to struggle with BYOD and BYOL and BYO-whatever-the-next-thing-is issues, Microsoft's long and often painful experience gaining a foothold in the enterprise may give it the edge it needs to gain share in this volatile market.

Enterprises will no doubt appreciate Microsoft's willingness to share control — if not give it outright. Microsoft recognises that enterprises are not consumer homes, and management integration is a critical factor in widespread enterprise adoption of any new technology.

Security is important, and certainly it is central in this brave new mobile world. But it is also the operational management of devices and applications that must be considered when adopting a mobile device strategy, whether BYOD or not.

Lori MacVittie is responsible for application services education and evangelism at application delivery firm F5 Networks. Her role includes producing technical materials and participating in community-based forums and industry standards organisations. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as in network and systems development and administration.

Topics: Mobile OS, Apple, Mobility, Security, Smartphones

Lori MacVittie

About Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for application services education and evangelism at app delivery firm F5 Networks. Her role includes producing technical materials and participating in community-based forums and industry standards organisations. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as in network and systems development and administration.

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  • Surface BYOD Nightmare

    To be fair, this issue is more a Windows 8 problem than a Surface one but still...

    I just can't wait to see the configuration nightmare IT departments will have with the ridiculous proxy setting support in Windows 8 and the BYOD trend.

    For some obscure reason, Microsoft decided to leave the web proxy setting "IE bound" instead of switching to a "Wi-Fi bound" model like the phones (and other tablet OS) adopted.

    The result is a painful transition between home networks and ofiice ones.
    • hmmm

      Mine works fine?

      I use 2 TMG servers at work, and then my router at home...

      No problems.
      • Corporate Web Proxy Servers?

        It does not look like your work place actually uses web proxy servers then.

        Have a look at IE's Internet Options>Connections>Lan Settings>Proxy Server.

        It is still IE bound and not Wi-Fi bound like other mobile OS.
        • Yeah

          That does suck, but you can set it by connection at least in IE.
    • Network connection settings aren't IE bound...

      They are accesible from with IE, FF and other browsers for that matter. Those applications are merely adjusting the settings from trhe same applet that is available in the WIndows Control Panel.
      • The Web Proxy Setting!

        Read again.

        The web-proxy setting is still "IE bound" in Windows 8. You have to go to Internet Options>Connections>Lan Settings>Proxy Server to define it.

        Microsoft chose not to implement the model used on Windows Phone (and other mobile OS) where the web proxy setting is bound to the Wi-Fi connection (set it once and you're done).
        • Internet Options is an aplet found in the Control Panel

          As titled, Internet Options is an aplet found in the Control Panel.


          Windows 8 proxy settings steps(only the settings of LAN are introduced here):

          1. Click Start and then Control Panel.
          2. Click Network and Internet, and then Internet Options.
          3. Click the Connections tab in the Internet Options dialog box.
          4. Click the LAN Settings button.
          5. To enable the use of a proxy server, check the box for “Use a proxy server for your LAN (These settings will not apply to dial-up or VPN connections)”. Enter the IP address of the proxy in the Address text box.
          6. Enter the port number of the proxy in the Port text box.
          7. Select the “Bypass proxy server for local addresses” checkbox, if you want to bypass the proxy server for local IP addresses,.
          8. Click OK to complete the proxy configuration process.


          Take note of step 1, it is NOT an Internet Explorer dependent step.

          With Win7, I can modify Internet Proxy settings in IE, as well as in FF, and directly within most browsers.

          Not sure where the problem is.
        • I think you are wrong, but perhaps I am misunderstanding

          I can open the Internet connection settings from the control panel (or if I wish from IE) and I can set up a (different) proxy for each of my connections. I believe this has been possible to do at least since Windows XP.

          What is it that you feel is missing?
  • Does the author realize Apple provides management tools for iOS?

    Might I suggest she look here:
    • No AD control

      Enterprise management is almost exclusively handled via Active Directory, as well as a number of extensions and custom code by internal develolpers.

      Apple does not offer any solution that allows IT to manage these devices via AD, SCCM, or any by any other Enterprise solution.

      Oh there is the Good server, which can manage some things, but it is not an extension or integrator of AD functionality.
      • Good

        My workplace has paid a hefty sum of money for its Good server. With Win8/PH8, the cost to manage these devices will be paltry and more effective than Good. I'm afraid that since the investment into iOS and Good is so high, we'll probably stay with Good instead of looking towards Intel Win 8 which won't have as good usability for the user or security for us.
        • Good is good, but it is 3rd party

          Good is still a 3rd party solution that adds layers into the Enterprise. It is not a replacement for AD, not by any stretch.
      • You meant

        "not managed by Microsoft technology management solutions"

        Just a shortcoming of said Microsoft technology. No worries, there are enough higher quality MDM solutions around.

        There is life beyond Microsoft.
        • The alternative is what?

          Businesses can immediately, or relatively quickly, replace my AD infrastructure with the following solution(s):




          The viable alternative to Exchange is one or more of the following:




          Managing desktop systems other than Windows can be done with the following technology stack:

          • good reply

            Great way to phrase it...gets right to the point
          • Nicely put!

            I have been trying to solve, reasonably, that conundrum for over a decade. My customer infrastructure divison manages a few thousand servers globally spread and only MS with AD etc cuts it.
    • iOS vs Surface? What?

      From the title, you compare an OS with a Tablet...
      Cun Con
  • Small hurdle

    Microsoft will win because it requires so many patches that IT managers are "used to it", but Apple won't because it doesn't. What an odd conclusion. Most corporations already allow Apple products in (yes, there are a few holdouts), so it would seem this hurdle is about 2 inches high.
    • Hmmmmmmmm

      The way to interpret that is, MS knows products have bugs and they need to fix them ASAP for Enterprise customers and Apple won't accept bugs and they'll fix them if they cost Apple money. Who you think Enterprise customers prefer? Ask Apple Java users.
      • Well, at my place of employment...

        Apple, iPads in particular, are the scourge of technology as considered by *all* of our network and security analysts. Yeah, a lot of them even own Macs & iPads, but in enterprise they are absolutely a nightmare.