Is Microsoft set to steal Apple’s computing crown?
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Microsoft dominated the home computing market. Led by Bill Gates, the company’s dominance was so great that the first Microsoft vs Apple battle saw off his great rival Steve Jobs, who quit Apple in the early 90s.
A few years later Jobs returned. The company released the iconic iPod and overhauled its MacBook range, before going on to become the most valuable company in the world. Whereas Apple’s new machines were white, shiny and the choice of coffee shop-dwelling hipsters the world over, Microsoft’s range was considered stale and old hat, with a range of Windows systems coming in for a lot of criticism (Vista, anyone?)
But could all that be about to change? Some of Apple’s recent home computing products have failed to impress the tech industry as they did when Jobs was still at the helm.
On the other hand, Microsoft has upped its game with a range of innovative products, including the Surface Studio, an all-in-one PC with a 28-inch touchscreen display.
Latest MacBook Pro launch fails to wow critics
The critical response to Apple’s latest line of MacBook Pros has been lukewarm. Out have gone traditional USB ports in favour of modern, but currently less mainstream, USB-C ports. One tweeter joked that Apple’s fastest growing product range is now adapters.
Others have been critical of the company for hiking the cost of the machines up to a high-end price bracket. The larger of the two new MacBook Pros, the 15-inch model with Touch Bar, is the first laptop the company has released with a starting price north of £2,000 for more than a decade.
Since the original iPhone was launched in 2007, touchscreen technology has increasingly become the norm. Smartphones and tablets have eaten into the market share of laptops and PCs, with many companies offering hybrid – half tablet, half laptop – options to tackle this. Apple hasn’t chosen to go down this route and could pay a heavy price if consumers choose to go for cheaper and more versatile options.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
When Microsoft first launched its Surface range of tablets four years ago, sales were poor and the general perception was that of a company hanging on to Apple and Google’s coat tails, with a product clunkier than an iPad or Chromebook and nothing more than a halfway house between both. That changed with last year’s launch of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, which has been a hit with consumers as well as critics, shifting £760m-worth of devices compared to £550m the previous year.
The Surface Pro is a direct competitor to Apple’s flagship products aimed at professionals: the MacBook Pro and the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro runs on Apple’s iOS operating system, which is designed for the company’s range of smartphones and tablets, instead of macOS which is reserved for its computers.
The Surface Pro 4, on the other hand, runs Windows 10 Pro – Microsoft’s most advanced operating system. Like the iPad Pro, it also features a stylus in the form of the Surface Pen, which allows users to “write” on the screen as if they were using a pen – but this feature is absent from the new MacBook Pro.
Result: Although Apple products remain popular among students and creatives for now, the release of the much-anticipated Surface Pro 5 next spring could see Microsoft take the top spot in the next round of the home computing battle.