When the Mac and Microsoft Line Up

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Frequently, people love to think of Microsoft and the Mac as archrivals. This, I think, might have more to do with Mac users than Microsoft users. Many Microsoft users are also very happily contented Apple users (for the purposes if this article the word Mac is being used in a very generic fashion really to include all things Apple). These Microsoft users would love to see their beloved iPad play well with the Office system they use which is likely based on Exchange.

The above scenario I just painted has and is becoming the current reality. Microsoft though is playing a role in this. They want their (there is no more their today) users to use Surface and RT and Windows phone and whatever is the order of today from Microsoft’s perspective at a risk of alienating both the Microsoft user and the Apple user.

It benefits therefore the user of both products that their products work as seamlessly together as possible. No user experience these days is as a result of using a pure Apple, Microsoft or Google environment.

Microsoft I believe is beginning to see. Office 365 is a good example as they attempt to create a seamless productivity environment for both users. They have clearly indicated a new Mac product is coming to us this year. All we can do now is wait. Once there, Microsoft will have taken a huge step to ensure that all Microsoft and Mac users are on a more reliable road. They will also ensure for themselves that Office 365 is the path we take to get from A to B.

For Apple’s part we are still waiting. They though have done a lot of the foundational work to allow as much transparency of use. If they do this right and get off the blame Microsoft bandwagon they will cement themselves as the mobile device of choice working seamlessly with Corporate systems.

Microsoft has a larger concern

Google is presenting a strong challenge to Microsoft and unlike Apple, who traditionally hasn’t been interested in the Corporate environment, Google is. Google is challenging M icrosoft headon and they’re doing it with interesting products and presenting a strong price challenge.

Microsoft needs to address all the above. However, with Apple it would be an approach that you can choose a Microsoft solution and you are as equal as the rest. Otherwise, they would be annoying their own base who use Apple products.

Further, Apple represents a huge small business systems opportunity for them to sell to. There are a lot of Apple based small businesses that would love a business system that works seamlessly with the Mac. There is little to prevent Microsoft from delivering just such a product to the Apple community through Office 365.

Google is another story. Much depends on the success of their chromebook strategy. However, if this were to take off it is geared to a complete Google experience. As an example, Google apps work. A chromebook, able to provide most of what a user needs at a crazily low price might and does hold a lot of appeal. This is not the turf Microsoft needs to fight on.

Google’s turf is a flawed logic and strategically not so brilliant. However, people will listen to price and that’s Microsoft challenge.

Office 365 the Glue that Binds

Office 365 is a brilliant product. Microsoft should seriously think about it’s other product positioning and ask where should their money go in terms of the delivery of exceptional product. Certainly not to Windows 8. They are flogging a dead horse at great expense. It makes sense to of course continue development of the product but not expend a lot of effort. To compete against Apple, Google and Linux they should make the Windows 8 free with the hope everyone upgrades to this base of Windows making support and development so much simpler.

Microsoft’s efforts on hardware have generally not been very successful and at great cost. What is the problem with an Apple, that works seamlessly with Microsoft, stimulating and growing positive buiness for each company.

Office 365 here can be the glue that binds if Microsoft would only let it happen. By reinforcing tight integration with the Mac they ensure the sale of Office 365 and a happy Microsoft and Mac user diligently working away on Office productivity products. How cool is that. Very!

Office 365 has great Affinity for the small to Medium Sized Business

Office 365 can be deployed on any level from large corporate to the smallest of small business with great benefits. It has its greatest affinity for the small to medium size business. These size companies could not realistically deploy the technologies that would have given then true business class functionality as it is simply too expensive. Fortunately for Microsoft there are are large number of small business’ that are improperly equipped due to costs.

Office 365 changes that and makes such systems available to the small business. To add to this, there is a preponderance of small businesses that are Mac based. These Mac based systems are in dire need of a world class business/information system that can deliver true productivity gains. In many ways and the Mac user may or may not be aware of this but they have kludged information based components together in an attempt to create an information system. Productivity gains that they could be making if they used 365 they are loosing.

Part of the reason for this is Office 2011 for the Mac and most specifically Outlook are probably the worst products Microsoft, over many years, has ever put together for the Mac user. The Mac user upon introduction just more or less sees this as an inferior product that doesn’t work. There is no question it is an inferior product and one of Microsoft’s worst efforts for the Mac but it can work if you have some patience.

Office 365 can deliver

As I said earlier the small business user, whether they are fully PC, Mac or a mixed base is looking for a small business system that will make them more productive. They don’t just want any business system that the vendor says will make them more productive. They don’t want any component piece along that road. There are software packages that both the Mac and PC user should take advantage of beyond the system of course.

However, it is my feeling that 365 can deliver all the necessary functionality for an effective distributed system. I feel this is a system that is equally fashioned for the Mac as the PC. There are aspects of the Mac system that aren’t up to snuff but the system is still effective. Microsoft for their part are working diligently to deliver a new Mac client. The infrastructure though remains strong and can provide all the backbone functionality required.

In many ways, it is essy to understand the Mac users bitterness around 365. Microsoft has had years to catch up. In fact, they started Office with the Mac. The purposefully held the Mac software development back. This, of course begs the question why would Mac user give them a second chance.

The reason that you might give Microsoft a second chance has to do with you. If you are a sole proprietor and you or you and your team can function more effectively, then regardless of Microsoft you come out as a winner. Being bitter about Microsoft’s past ways might only hurt you and your business.

There is always Parallels or VMware

Finally, at the client level, through Parallels or VMWare, you can use Windows 8 and the complete Office Suite. You can run both systems in tandem. In no way, because you’re a Mac user, are you barred from any component of the Office 365 experience.

I prefer using my Office 365 system solely from my Mac and not Windows. It’s just my preference and I’ve gotten rusty using Windows. Biase might be in this part of the picture but the Mac is superior to Windows along with the user experience.

Microsoft should do now what it does best and so too does that go for the Mac

I think it’s unfortunate at times when I see Microsoft and Apple working at cross purposes. Steve Ballmer was no good for Microsoft. That’s a given.

The jury is still out on Tim Cook but not for much longer. He has to deliver something that is not Steve Jobs this year. I believe he made a big mistake at the fall introduction of product when he cut into Microsoft. It was self serving and an attempt to deflect from what, if you look behind the curtains, has been his poor performance. Time is not on his side now. If he doesn’t deliver this year, the market will scream bloody murder and so too will the investor.

If Microsoft can do what it does best now and that’s concentrate on the delivery of infrastructure, cloud and network products and Apple concetrate on great end user products, then the two can combine for a fantastic user experience. Both companies win.

It will be difficult for Microsoft to give up or let go of some of the things it has historically done and invested a lot of money in. However, they are better served by a focus on these new cloud services that leverage their applications. I would think this might be where Microsoft’s future revenues come from.

For Apple, their supplying iCloud and cloud based services is great. However, I don’t think Apple is in the position of delivering enterprise class systems.

This is where the two companies conjoin. Microsoft can certainly deliver the enterprise class systems. Apple has got great end user gear. Combined it’s dynamite.

Productivity Unleashed

What both Apple and Microsoft are attempting to do is make their users more productive. Utiilizing a combined approach they certainly can achieve this. It is in Microsoft’s, Apple’s and the user’s best interest.

I have done a fairly extensive overview of Office 365 related to the Mac and how tremendous productivity gains can be unleashed by this combo. More work on this may be required and is likely to be required. I would hope to this point though the days of Microsoft the enemy are fading and a concentration on productivity would be the order of the day. By making it so you ensure that the best can be accomplished with your Mac and IOS devices and everyone is a winner.

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