Apple Microsoft Rivalry Cooled. Now Back

In November, actor John Hodgman appeared against a white backdrop in a virtual product introduction for Apple’s Mac relaunch, wearing a geeky, ill-fitting suit.

Recalling the popular Mac vs. PC television commercials from a decade ago, which didn’t hide the fact that Apple was cool and Microsoft wasn’t, he remarked, “Stop, hang on, wait, one more thing, hi, I’m a PC.”

The purpose of the gathering was to inform Mac faithful that the upcoming machines would include a more powerful processor. The implication, however, was clear: Apple Inc.’s long-standing competition with Microsoft Corp.

Apple Microsoft Rivalry Cooled. Now Back

In the annals of tech history, few rivalries have been as iconic as the one between Apple and Microsoft. These two giants have dominated the tech landscape for decades, often clashing in their approaches to software, hardware, and overall vision.

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Let’s dive deep into their storied rivalry, explore the causes of their competition, understand key litigation cases, and figure out their current relationship status.

Over the Course of Several Years

The two businesses established common ground and worked together. Apps from Microsoft, including Office, began appearing on the iPad and iPhone, and the company was even invited to an Apple launch event.

Microsoft made its products compatible with the Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard, and Apple just made it easier to utilise Xbox game controllers on Apple devices. In the previous fall, Apple made its TV app available for Xbox as well.

However, Microsoft started badmouthing Apple to regulators about the time the PC character returned, claiming that Apple’s App Store was anti-competitive. Microsoft had joined Epic Games Inc.

in its lawsuit against Apple for removing the Fortnite app from the App Store, which claimed that Apple was acting monopolistically. In the trial’s second week, a Microsoft executive testified against Apple, claiming that Apple’s strict management of its App Store had damaged Microsoft’s own gaming initiatives.

Apple and Microsoft are both aiming to dominate the next big things in technology, such as artificial intelligence and cloud computing, games, tablets, custom CPUs, and mixed-reality headsets, so tensions are unlikely to subside even after a judgement is handed down.

About a year ago, tensions between Apple and Microsoft began to rise again. Microsoft’s xCloud was a cloud-based gaming service made specifically for iOS devices. For a monthly charge, customers may access dozens of Microsoft’s games via cloud streaming, all from within a single app.

The idea behind the service was to make Apple devices a more formidable gaming platform supported by one of the biggest names in the industry (Xbox), similar to what Netflix achieved for film.

Microsoft tried to get Apple to change its policy against all-in-one gaming services being sold through the App Store, but they were unsuccessful. At first, Microsoft couldn’t release any online games.

However, Apple changed the rules amid public outcry over the ban on streaming apps. Although Microsoft can now introduce a cloud gaming service, users will have to download individual games, undercutting the idea of a unified offering.

Microsoft is now making the service available on Apple devices through the web, which is not nearly as convenient as downloading an actual app.

At Roughly the Same Time,

Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, began calling for investigations into Apple’s business practises by antitrust authorities in the United States and Europe.

The criteria “increasingly say there is only one way to come on to our platform and that is to go through the gate that we ourselves have constructed,” Smith told a reporter from Politico. He went on to say that Apple’s activities were far worse than the ones that got his company into trouble with antitrust regulators over 20 years ago.

Once the Epic trial began, what should have stayed a manageable dustup quickly exploded. Epic’s assertions that Apple is an antitrust offender were supported by testimony from Lori Wright, deputy president of business development for Xbox at Microsoft.

Apple retorted by alleging Microsoft profits $600–$700 million annually from its partnership with Epic and is only backing the game developer because of the financial benefits.

Microsoft’s vice president of Xbox business development, Lori Wright, explains the company’s strategy for the console. Credit for the photo goes to David Paul Morris/Bloomberg.

Apple Claimed that the Xbox Download

Apple claimed that the Xbox Download Store operated under similar terms to its own, including a 30% cut for Microsoft, the need for its own payment method, and the prohibition of competing digital marketplaces.

Apple has also claimed that Microsoft, as an iOS developer, would profit from a forced update to the App Store. Microsoft spokesperson Frank X. Shaw said in an email, “We plainly disagreed with Apple’s refusal to allow game streaming via the App Store.”

Nonetheless, we will continue to work with Apple on other projects, such as Microsoft 365 for iOS and Mac. Maybe, but there could be other conflicts as well. International Data Corporation reports that Mac sales increased in the first quarter, more than twice as quickly as sales of PCs, which primarily run on Microsoft’s Windows operating system,

in the burgeoning personal computer sector, where the companies battle head to head. Apple may have only 8% of the computer market, but its updates are popular with the millions of Americans who will keep working from home once the pandemic passes.

Apple is also working on a mixed-reality headset for delivery in 2019, following in the footsteps of Microsoft’s Hololens. Microsoft has thought about making its own chips for its products, following Apple’s successful model.

Both firms are vying for the best and brightest in emerging fields like artificial intelligence and cloud computing. Microsoft is even producing phones again, and these new handsets run Android, the operating system developed by Google, an archrival of Apple’s iOS.

Could the hostility grow much worse? Tense exchanges, if the history provides any indication. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, famously compared the release of iTunes on Windows to offering someone in hell a glass of cool water, and Apple has frequently made fun of Microsoft software and accused the firm of duplicating Apple’s concepts.

The Genesis of the Rivalry

Apple and Microsoft began their journeys around the same time in the mid-1970s, but they took different paths. Apple was always about creating a perfect integration of hardware and software, ensuring a premium user experience.

On the other hand, Microsoft focused on creating software that could be used by a variety of hardware manufacturers. The initial cause of the rivalry was mainly ideological.

Apple’s Steve Jobs believed in controlling every aspect of his products, from the software to the hardware. Microsoft’s Bill Gates believed in licensing software to multiple hardware manufacturers, thus ensuring widespread adoption.

The Apple vs. Microsoft Copyright Case

One of the most significant points of contention between the two companies was the Apple vs. Microsoft copyright case. Apple sued Microsoft in 1988, claiming that Microsoft’s Windows 2.0 software infringed on Apple’s visual graphical user interface.

This lawsuit was significant as it delved into the murky waters of software copyright.

Ultimately, in 1993, the courts ruled in favor of Microsoft. They stated that the majority of features Apple claimed Microsoft had copied from the Macintosh interface had been licensed, while others were not unique to the Macintosh.

Apple’s Modern Competition Strategy

Apple’s current strategy in competing with Microsoft seems to revolve around diversifying its product line and enhancing its ecosystem. The company has expanded into wearables, services like Apple Music and Apple TV+, and continues to upgrade its software ecosystems with macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and more.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has doubled down on cloud computing with Azure and has continued to dominate the PC software market with Windows. They’ve also made inroads into hardware with products like the Surface line.

Do Apple and Microsoft Get Along Today?

Interestingly, the heated rivalry of the past has cooled down considerably in recent years. Both companies seem to recognize the importance of collaboration.

For instance, Microsoft’s Office suite, which includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, runs smoothly on Apple’s macOS and iOS platforms. Similarly, Apple has ensured its services, like iCloud, work well on Windows.

However, with both companies continually evolving and venturing into new tech territories, competition is inevitable. Still, it seems to be more about coexisting in the vast tech ecosystem rather than trying to outdo one another at every turn.

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The Apple-Microsoft rivalry has been a significant force shaping the tech industry. Their competition has driven innovation and given consumers a plethora of choices. While they have had their disagreements and legal battles, today’s landscape is more about collaboration than confrontation.

As the tech world continues to evolve, it will be fascinating to see how these two giants adapt and interact in the years to come.