How Microsoft Is Learning From Apple, And Why That’s Good

Microsoft Learning From Apple With Windows 8_Thumb

Apple’s influence is everywhere, and that’s no bad thing. Here’s what MSFT learned from Apple

Windows 8 is in many ways a response to Apple’s dominance, and OEMs see that too

At Computex this week, we’ve seen all kinds of Windows 8 devices – ultrabooks, tablets and ultrabook-tablet hybrids. It’s no surprise we’re seeing these devices when Apple established dominance on the tablet market with the iPad, and revitalized its ultra-thin MacBook Air range.

Windows 8 is built for touch; look at Metro, which is about as different as you can get to the Windows we know and love: large, colorful icons that require a single touch to open. The desktop side remains, if only to serve as contrast. The question is whether the two represent functionality and form, or whether both sides can be equally productive.

And that’s the feeling of some analysts, who aren’t sold on Windows 8. Those such as IDC analyst Bryan Ma feel the OS has potential in the long-term for growth, but in the short-term it’s going to be difficult to push Apple aside. Of course, it’s not impossible: iOS is increasingly in need of a major refresh. The same grid-based layout has been in use in 2007, and Apple introduced a notification bar in late 2011.

Developers Recipe For Success

I’ve spoken many times over how I believe Microsoft is the only company that has the developer support and consumer mindshare to get its products in the hands of consumers. We’re already seeing signs of that with Windows Phone: consumers are picking it over Android, because it’s simple and attention grabbing.

Acer has already said it’s committed to Windows 8, unveiling two tablets, two ultrabooks and two hybrid devices. It’s these kind of devices where consumers will be able to find something for their needs, I feel. The iPad is successful, but you need a laptop or PC along with it.

Barclays capital analyst Kirk Yang added, after Computex, that Windows 8 matched Apple’s user experience. However, Ma said a big question is whether Microsoft can get good apps to build an attractive platform. Google’s Android Google Play market has faster growth and more apps, but the quality is noticeably lower. The best developers go to iOS first. Apple also has a complete ecosystem, from music to games to books.

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Jonathan is a writer on the technology and video game industries. He is comfortable with using Mac OS X and Windows; he began using Windows with Windows XP during his early double-digit years, and started using OS X in 2009 on a MacBook Pro. He began gaming on the SNES back in the 90s.

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