Apple is winning, and it really wants its competition to know it.
One of the most notable things about the company’s presentation in San Francisco today is just how eager Apple was to stick it to its rivals — particularly Microsoft — at every turn.
Not only did Apple question the validity of hybrid devices like the Surface, but the company also took a dig at two of Microsoft’s biggest revenue streams — operating system upgrades and productivity software. Apple may be already burying Microsoft in the hardware department, but it’s also going out of its way to stretch that domination to software as well.
UPDATE: Microsoft has responded to Apple’s abuse with a few insults of its own. This is getting interesting.
“Our competition is different: They’re confused. They chased after netbooks. Now they’re trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs. Who knows what they’ll do next? I can’t answer that question, but I can tell you that we’re focused.”
One of the more obvious anticompetitor comments came from Apple CEO Tim Cook himself, who laid a major burn on devices like Microsoft’s “sorta-tablet, softa-PC” Surface.
While the Surface is core to Microsoft’s future as a devices and service’s company, in Cook’s eyes it’s the kind of device that shows that other companies aren’t quite ready to completely embrace the post-PC world, where people are typing on virtual screens rather than physical keyboards.
And Cook is mostly right. One of the biggest problems with Windows 8 in particular is that the operating system can’t quite let go of the legacy of Windows releases that preceded it. It features both the new Metro interface and the aged Windows desktop, and it clumsily switches between the two. With the recently released Windows 8.1, it’s even brought back the Start button, which Microsoft seemed previously intent to leave behind.
So, yeah, maybe Apple’s rivals are a bit confused.
“The days of spending hundreds of dollars to get the most from your computer are gone.”
One of the more interesting parts of Apple’s announcement today came from Apple engineering VP Craig Federighi, who announced that Mavericks, the latest version of OS X, would be completely free for all Mac users. (Mountain Lion, the previous version of OS X sold for $20.)
Apple says that the move will change how operating systems are sold, and while it’s too early to say whether that’s true, it certainly does put a lot a pressure on Microsoft. Compared to the free Mavericks upgrade, paying nearly $200 for the latest version of Windows will reek of a bad deal for both consumers and enterprise customers, even of it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.
With its new “free is good” OS X update strategy, Apple has clearly learned a lot from iOS, which is so easy to upgrade that most users already have the latest version just weeks after its release.
By giving Mavericks away, Apple wants to make sure that Mac users have little reason to not upgrade their computers. That makes it very different from Microsoft, which is still struggling to get people to upgrade from Windows XP, which was released over 10 years ago.
Put another way: Microsoft is now the only company still selling its operating systems. And that’s not a great spot to be in.
“Now you can create a document on an iPad, edit it on a Mac, and even share it with a friend who’s stuck on a PC.”
Apple’s moves with iWork, its productivity software, also came with some clear jabs at Microsoft. Not only is the software getting some significant upgrades, but it’s also completely free for owners of new Macs and iOS devices.
That’s an aggressive move against Microsoft Office 365, which costs $99 a year if you want to use it on the iPhone.
“Others would have you spend a small fortune every year just to get their apps,” Apple services VP Eddy Cue said earlier alongside the slide above.
The trend toward a more productivity-friendly iOS fits well into the general trend with the iPhone, which is in many ways replacing the BlackBerry as the enterprise device of choice. With the latest versions of iWork and iLife, Apple seems intent on bringing that sort of enterprise-friendliness to iOS as a whole — particularly with the iPad.
Here’s how Cook explained what Apple is trying to do here.
We doing this because we want our customers to have our latest software and access to the greatest new features. And we think all of our of customers — from customers to educators to enterprise and small business, are going to love this new experience of owning a Mac and iOS device.
All and all Apple raised a lot of good points, and its presentation today showed just how far it’s come compared to the competition over the past few years. I have just one request, though: Maybe we can be a bit nicer next time, guys?