Surface envy: Apple is trying to ruin Windows 8’s launch

windows 8 apple competition microsoft

Apple hates Android and wants to undermine Google at every opportunity. The evidence is everywhere, from Steve Jobs’ infamous willingness to “go thermonuclear” on the OS, to the banishing of Google Maps and YouTube from iOS 6. But it’s been more than a decade since Apple has appeared to loathe Microsoft. Yes, they used to be bitter rivals, but that was in a different time. Or, at least, we thought it was. But with Apple holding a major press conference on October 23, just three days before Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Microsoft’s Surface tablets go on sale, it’s apparent that it once again considers Microsoft a threat.

Microsoft has been building up to this moment for a while, and make no mistake the Oct. 26 launch of Windows 8 is the company’s big moment of 2012, and possibly 2013 too. Windows 8 is the basis of the Microsoft’s strategy and product plans for the coming years, and it’s vitally important that it succeeds and gets good buzz.

Apple October 23 inviteApple however, wants to assert its position, and will do so on Oct. 23, regardless of the products it launches. If the rumors are true and it shows a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, a new Mac mini, or a curvy iMac, Apple will be saying “Computers? We do them better.” If it’s the iPad Mini, Apple will be reminding Microsoft that it has been making its own touchscreen hardware for a long, long time, and it can still suck up all the buzz and press, even when all it announces is a smaller, cheaper version of an existing product.

This is Apple flexing its muscles, arming its warheads, positioning the fleet, and pointing the finger directly at Microsoft. The sad thing for Microsoft is, it’s not even that aggressive a move. It’s as if Apple doesn’t really want or even need to spend much energy deflecting Microsoft’s efforts. A single press conference and product might do it. Even the event invitation’s slogan, “We’ve got a little more to show you,” makes the whole thing sound like an afterthought.

Apple to Surface missiles

What’s Apple’s problem, then? Apple is winning in smartphones and tablets — 85 million-plus iPhones sold in the US alone, 68-percent market share in tablets — and while Windows may dominate the home PC market, Mac OS X’s market share has been improving. Not that improving PC sales mean much. As we all know, PC sales are going nowhere but down at the moment.

Is this all about the Surface? Possibly, yes. Apple probably doesn’t relish the idea of another competitor trying to steal away some of its precious market share, and it’s obviously worried enough about the impact of cheap Android tablets to introduce a cheaper, smaller iPad. Microsoft has confirmed that it’s targeting the iPad with the official pricing of its tablets, with the 32GB Windows RT Surface going for $500, $100 less than the equivalent iPad. In the UK, that same 32GB Surface is £400, exactly the same price as a 16GB iPad.

It’s a sound business decision on Apple’s part to crash Microsoft’s party, but we can’t help but wonder if Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s words from an interview earlier this year initially woke the beast. Speaking to CRN.com, Ballmer was referring to Apple’s lead in innovation when he said: “We are not going to let any piece of this go uncontested by Apple, not the consumer cloud, not hardware or software innovation. We are not leaving any of that to Apple by itself. Not going to happen. Not on our watch.”

Now that’s just asking for trouble.

But looking back, perhaps Apple did land the first blow. In April, during a quarterly earnings call, CEO Tim Cook criticized Microsoft’s attempt to merge tablets and PCs with Windows 8. “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but you know those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user… And you wouldn’t want to put these things together because you wind up compromising both and not pleasing the user. Some people will prefer to own both, and that’s great there. But I think to make the compromises of convergence, we’re not going to that party. Others might. Others might from a defensive point of view, particularly. We’re going to play in both.”

A carefully crafted strike

The timing of Apple’s event is no accident: it’s a carefully crafted pre-emptive strike against Microsoft, which it hopes will crush any resistance that may be forthcoming. Apple wants to dilute whatever buzz surrounds Windows 8 and keep the eye of attention on itself throughout the holidays. It’s all very “shock and awe,” but Apple is proving that it’s has its eye on the steadily rising wave of competition. Is all this noise and brashness merely to cover up a degree of fear creeping in at Cupertino? If so, it needs to be careful. Predators can smell fear from miles away.

Mobile

The 2018 iPad is often the best iPad for most people — and now it’s only $250

Apple may have recently taken the wraps off of a new iPad Air and iPad Mini, but it's still the standard iPad that is best for most people. Now, the standard iPad has gotten a pretty significant discount -- it's down from $330 to $250.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for March 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for March 2018.
Mobile

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.
Computing

Tired of choosing between Windows and Mac? Check out these Chromebooks instead

We've compiled a list of the best Chromebooks -- laptops that combine great battery life, comfortable keyboards, and the performance it takes to run Google's lightweight Chrome OS. From Samsung to Acer, these are the Chromebooks that really…
Computing

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.
Computing

Here are the best affordable monitors for your budget desktop

Looking for the best budget monitors? These monitors are affordable, but still provide the features you need for gaming, work, home or other plans! Take a look at the displays and your wallet will thank you.
Product Review

The Lenovo Legion Y740 brings RTX 2080 graphics power for under $2,500

Coming with the Intel Core i7-8750H processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, the Legion Y740 one big beast. But priced at under $2,500 how does Lenovo’s Legion stand up against the crowd?
Computing

This limited-time Dell deal cuts $330 off the price of the XPS 15

Dell is currently running a limited-time sale that is cutting the pricing on the XPS 15 down by $330, but only through Thursday, March 21, and with the use of a special coupon code. 
Mobile

Google hit with another fine by the EU, this time for $1.7 billion

Google has been fined for the third time by the EU, this time for breaching antitrust laws by requiring third-party websites using its search function to prioritize its ads over competitors.
Computing

If you have $5,200, Apple has 256GB of RAM for your iMac Pro

Professionals looking to run intensive applications will be able to push their work a bit further with Apple's latest iMac Pro, which holds 256GB of DD4 ECC RAM for $5,200. Here's why it costs so much to upgrade your iMac Pro to the top.
Computing

Don’t be fooled! Study exposes most popular phishing email subject lines

Phishing emails are on the rise and a new study out by the cybersecurity company Barracuda has exposed some of the most common phishing email subject lines used to exploit businesses. 
Deals

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for March 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Computing

Oculus shows off the Rift S, plans to phase out its original VR headset

Oculus plans to phase out its flagship Rift VR headset for its newly created Rift S. The Rift S made its debut this week at the 2019 Game Developers Conference and is expected to be released in spring 2019.
Computing

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.