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Battle Of The Clouds: Apple challenges Microsoft Windows Live

Jun 3 2014, 2:05am CDT | by

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Battle Of The Clouds: Apple challenges Microsoft Windows Live

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Battle Of The Clouds: Apple challenges Microsoft Windows Live

With the introduction of Continuity for OSX Yosemite and iOS 8, not only has Tim Cook given Apple users a coherent platform from mobile phone and tablet to laptop and desktop, he has given Apple an opportunity to be number one in the battle for cloud storage and cloud computing services.

The top level statistics for OSX are impressive. The install base for Mac grew by 12% (compared to a 5% decrease for the PC market), and 40 million copies of OSX Mavericks have been installed. That’s more than 50% of the potential audience, and drew a humorous comparison to Windows 8′s 14% adoption.

After the expected recap, WWDC focused on the new version of OSX, 10.10, which will go by the name Yosemite. While Apple has kept OSX and iOS as separate code-bases (declining to follow the route that Microsoft is going down with the commonality between Windows and Windows Phone), the Cupertino-based developers are doing their best to merge the user experience between deskbound and mobile devices.

Apple’s Senior VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi took the keynote audience through a number of examples. Labelling this principle ‘Continuity’, he started off with a feature that many have been hoping for. AirDrop will work between OSX and iOS platforms. Then the demo went further.

Handoff allows someone’s workflow to be shared between devices. Working on a presentation on your MacBook Pro? Just pick up your iPad and the lock screen will have an icon so you can take over the work on your tablet. Drafting an email on your iPhone and you have arrived at your desk? Your MacBook will let you know that you can pick up the editing in its Mail app. The fun didn’t end there, with the ability of OSX to interact with the cellular connections in iOS demonstrated, including the integration of SMS texts into Messages, and the ability make and receive calls on your OSX machine using the iOS like a base station.

We’re sure to hear more about the services this offers over the coming weeks, but for me the presentation had echoes of a previous presentation this year – the introduction of the Surface Pro 3 by Microsoft’s Panos Panay. He took great care to show the integration, synchronisation, and benefits of cloud computing between the Surface Pro 3, Windows Phone, and other Windows 8 devices.

Confident that the target market understood the benefits of Windows’ cloud-based offering, Microsoft focused on collaboration between users. Apple spent much of the OSX portion of the WWDC presentation showing how a single user could benefit from the cloud.

The battle lines for the rest of 2014 and the first half of 2015 are now set and it’s a battle for the cloud. While there are some bridges at the application level (notably Office 365 and iCloud Drive), users are going to be asked to choose between Windows Live and iCloud, between iPhone and Windows Phone, and between OSX or Windows 8.

Google could also be considered as a contender, with the Chromebook movement acting as the desktop component, but I don’t feel their Enterprise offering is as strong as that offered by Apple or Microsoft.

Those passive-aggressive slides about the adoption levels of OSX compared to Windows 8 (and Android ‘Kit-Kat’ compared to iOS 7) now look a lot less like comic asides and more like coded messages to Enterprise buyers as well as individual consumers. Apple has claimed pole position in the desktop market and claimed the lead role in the smartphone space.

Now Apple is ready to stake a claim as being the leader in cloud services.

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