At the virtual product launch for Apple’s Mac reboot in November, actor John Hodgman appeared in a clumsy, poorly fitting suit before a white background. “Wait, wait, wait, one more thing, hi, I’m a PC,” he said, reiterating the popular Mac versus PC television commercials from a decade ago, which didn’t so subtly telegraph the idea that Apple was cool. And Microsoft was not.
The event was organized to let Mac fans know that the new machines were getting faster processors. But the subtext was unmistakable: Apple’s old rivalry with Microsoft was back.
For many years, the two companies found a reason to collaborate. Microsoft’s Office and other apps began to appear on the iPad and iPhone; Apple also invited Microsoft for the product launch. Apple recently made it easier to use Xbox game controllers on Apple devices, while Microsoft has made its products compatible with new Apple features like the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard. Last fall, Apple ported its TV app to the Xbox as well.
But when the PC character reappeared, Microsoft vilified Apple for regulators, saying the company’s App Store was anti-competitive. The Redmond, Washington, software giant had thrown its lot with Epic Games, which is suing Apple for booting its Fornite title from the App Store and accusing the iPhone maker of monopolistic behavior. A Microsoft executive has since testified against Apple at trial, now in its second week, telling the court that Apple’s tight controls over its App Store hurt Microsoft’s own gaming efforts.
Tensions are unlikely to subside once the verdict is out as both Apple and Microsoft look to dominate the next big things in technology – from artificial intelligence and cloud computing to gaming, tablets, custom processors and mixed-reality headsets .
The renewed conflict between Apple and Microsoft began almost a year ago. Microsoft had developed a cloud gaming service for iPhone devices and iPad models called xCloud. One app will let users pay a monthly fee to Microsoft and stream dozens of different gaming titles from the cloud. The service was supposed to do for gaming what Netflix did for video, delight gamers and turn Apple devices into a more powerful gaming platform backed by Xbox, one of the hottest names in the industry.
But Microsoft never launched the service in its intended form, failing to persuade Apple to comply with App Store rules forbidding all-in-one gaming services. Originally, Microsoft was barred from launching any cloud-based games. But a few months after concerns about the ban on streaming apps went public, Apple changed the rules. Microsoft may now launch a cloud gaming service, but each game must be downloaded separately, defeating the purpose of an all-in-one solution. Now Microsoft is rolling out the service to Apple devices via the web, which is a far less optimal experience than the actual app.
Around the same time, Microsoft President Brad Smith began urging US and European antitrust regulators to investigate Apple’s practices. “They impose requirements that increasingly say there’s only one way to get on our platform and that’s through the door we’ve built ourselves,” Smith told a Politico reporter, He said he sees Apple’s behavior as worse than the actions that put his company on the hot seat of antitrust more than 20 years ago.
A solvable dustup may have cropped up instead after the Epic trial ran. Microsoft’s vice president of business development for Xbox Lori Wright testified that Microsoft is influenced by Apple’s rules when it comes to gaming, supporting Epic’s claims that Apple is an antitrust violator. Apple hit back saying that Microsoft makes $600 million (about Rs 4,400 crore) to $700 million (approximately Rs 5,130 crore) annually from its relationship with Epic and is defending the game maker because it is not worth the business. It’s good.
Apple argued that Microsoft’s Xbox Download Store has the same rules as Apple, taking a 30 percent cut, requiring its own payment system and banning alternative digital marketplaces. Apple also said that Microsoft as an iOS developer would benefit if it was forced to modify the App Store.
“We expressly disagree with Apple’s refusal to allow game streaming through the App Store,” Microsoft spokesman Frank X. Shaw said in an email. “But that disagreement won’t stop us from collaborating with Apple on other topics, as we do with Microsoft 365 on iOS and Mac devices.”
Perhaps, but other conflicts are likely. In a rapidly growing personal computer market, where companies compete head-on, Mac sales doubled in the first quarter, more than twice as fast as PC sales, according to International Data Corporation, which is largely Microsoft. Runs on the Windows operating system. While Apple has only 8 percent of the computer market, its upgrades are popular with veterans of Americans who are expected to continue working from home.
Apple is also planning to release a mixed-reality headset next year, taking on Microsoft’s field at stake with the Hololens years ago. Microsoft has explored developing chips for its line of devices, echoing an Apple strategy that has helped boost sales. Both companies are competing for talent in AI and cloud infrastructure, the two major battlefields of the future. Microsoft has also gotten back to making its own phones, and of course, they use an operating system from another Apple enemy: Google’s Android.
How bad can an animus be? If the past is the prelude, then very tasty. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously likened the launch of iTunes on Windows to someone handing a glass of ice water to hell, while Apple regularly mocked Microsoft software and blamed Apple’s designs on the company. accused of copying.
Microsoft recently started running ads for its Surface hybrid tablets and laptops against the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro. Hodgman, who plays PC in the Apple commercials, can hear from his agent.
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