Following Apple’s big press event yesterday, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Communications Frank Shaw took to the company’s official blog to correct of a few of the misconceptions he saw in the “reality distortion field” generating from Cupertino. Writing from Abu Dhabi, where Nokia unveiled multiple new Windows devices earlier this week, Shaw set out to explain once and for all why the Surface is superior to the iPad in a post titled “Apples and oranges.”
Shaw argues that the iPad is only good if you want to “watch zombies or flick birds,” but can’t compare to the Surface, which offers a full suite of Office software as well as the ability to view two apps at once side-by-side and a desktop mode for when you really want to get work done.
“So, when I see Apple drop the price of their struggling, lightweight productivity apps, I don’t see a shot across our bow, I see an attempt to play catch up,” he writes, suggesting that Apple’s decision to offer its iWork apps free with any new iOS device is a feeble attempt to compete, and he may be right, but he’s also missing the point.
What Microsoft should be worried about is Apple’s decision to offer OS X Mavericks for free to pretty much every operational Mac computer since 2007. That’s a huge blow to the company, which is now the last one still charging for its desktop OS. It could mean big trouble for Microsoft down the line as more consumers switch over to OS X and companies consider the long-term costs of purchasing a fleet of PCs over Macs. Hopefully, the company is already working out how it will respond, but based on Shaw’s post it doesn’t sound like he’s given it much thought.
As for iWork, we doubt Apple really thinks its apps can compete with Office, but the company also knows offering customers something for free will be enough to keep a decent number of them out of Microsoft’s ecosystem entirely. The truth is that the decision to make iWork free is actually an attack against Google. The search giant’s suite of free services helped it quickly gain ground in the productivity market, and Apple’s new emphasis on free apps and shared documents seems more like a clear shot at Mountain View than anything else.