Microsoft is Learning from Rivals, but its Phone is Still Struggling |

With the release of the new Xbox One, we know Microsoft is continuing to play hard in the games console arena, but it is also taking huge chunks out of its main rivals in other areas as well. Most notably, it is aping aspects of Apple’s core hardware policy while being the only company to keep up with Amazon Web Services in the cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) segment. While these are all positive areas, its smartphone continues to struggle.

It’s a Pear, but with an Apple Core

On the surface, pardon the pun, Microsoft’s new hardware offerings, the Surface Pro range is as different as Apple’s Macs’ as they have ever been. The two are totally different and incompatible systems and probably always will be. However, as Ewan Spence in Forbes points out, the Surface range is echoing Apple in one sense, a lack of reparability or hardware mod potential. This is a mirror of the Apple strategy which keeps users tied to the brand and dependent on it for new tech and upgrades rather than modding their tech.

Microsoft is Still Winning on Software Though

The Surface Pro range is fantastic and is a real rival to Apple’s range of computers and laptops. Apple fans love their brands’ tech and software, but Microsoft continues to allow for open software on its hardware. So far, this has not changed even if you cannot hack the hardware. This means you can still buy and download Microsoft Office for cheap, upload Linux, use open software or Adobe, without worry. It is also tied to one of the best cloud computing services going. Currently, only Amazon Web Services come close with even Google, Oracle and Rackspace far, far behind. However, IBM, the once almost monopoly of hardware, is seen as a visionary of the cloud future, so watch this space.

Now, About that Smartphone…

Of course, you cannot be a company the size of Microsoft without getting some things wrong and the one segment it is struggling on right now is the smartphone. Several shareholders attending the ASM earlier this year complained that the company was effectively giving up control of the smartphone market to Google and Apple.

Indeed, before Steve Jobs created the iPhone, Microsoft was a market leader along with BlackBerry. Since then their share of the market has slowly withered; especially after the iPhone’s release in 2007. In short, the Windows Phone is lagging, its AI is not impressive, and consumers are splitting between Apple iOS and Android phones. Microsoft are going to have to be radical if they want to change momentum. However, they must be pretty pleased from a hardware and software perspective right now.

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