Microsoft and Apple. This rivalry is the stuff of legends. Two companies with similar goals, but with different approaches to achieve these goals. The tech giants have been competing with each other for decades in the past and will continue to do so for decades to come. Both aspire to create great products, to help empower people, yet these products are fundamentally different due to each believing in different versions of what it should do.

In the biography of Steve Jobs, a recurring theme is the constant difference in opinion between Gates and Jobs. One point of disagreement is whether or not devices should include a stylus. Jobs is famously quoted, saying “If you see a stylus, they blew it.” Regarding the use of styluses with tablets.  Bill Gates’ opinion at the time, as everyone expected, differed to that of Jobs. However, Microsoft’s Bill Gates said in 2001, that he expected the stylus to be used alongside tablet computers in the near future.

The Microsoft tablet was released in 2002. It was touted as the future of computing. The device’s roots lay in Alan Kay’s legendary 1960’s Dynabook concept; a magic slab of screen and silicon that was never built. Microsoft had even hired Kay’s key co-workers at Xerox PARC, Butler Lampson and Chuck Thacker, to help birth this new device. The tablet however failed to sell and was deemed a failure. One reason for its poor reception was the stylus – it was poorly integrated as windows wasn’t optimized for  tablet use.

The tablet market was largely quiet for a while until the iPad. Steve Jobs’ revolutionary design for a tablet was sleek and unique. It redefined the purpose of a tablet and how one would use it in their daily life. Needless to say the iPad was a massive hit. Apple’s masterpiece brought the tablet market to life and set the bar for tablet design.

It was widely believed that Steve jobs was right about the use of the stylus and that the ideologies that guided Apple’s products were indeed correct.

Another aspect is their contrasting views’ on hybrid computers. Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook, has said, “You can merge a toaster and a refrigerator, but that’s probably not going to be pleasing to anyone.”. This reflects apple’s belief that a device should  have one objective. And that this objective must be implemented well into the product.Whereas Microsoft introduced a number of tablet PC’s which were meant to serve the purpose of a tablet as well as a PC through a supposedly closely integrated experience. Their products however flopped due to an uninspired design that failed to do either the tablet or PC aspect properly. Yet the company continued to create hybrids; the most recent and notable being the surface line of convertibles.

The first version of the Surface brought in losses of about 900 million dollars whereas Apple’s products did extremely well individually. It was widely believed that once again apple had predicted user wants correctly.

But in recent times there has been a complete change in this situation. Microsoft’s third attempt at its surface tablet was a resounding success leading to imitations from various companies such as Lenovo. The device has now brought in about 3.5 billion dollars in revenue for Microsoft.

Tablet sales are on the decline, whereas the market for convertible devices has seen rapid growth and development. This may have been what prompted apple to introduce the iPad-Pro. A device which goes against all of the company staff’s previous statements. The device has a stylus (the infamous apple pencil) and an external keyboard; accessories similar to those included with a hybrid device. A stylus may have been introduced to satisfy the different needs of the new generation. However the modern day stylus is no longer the clunky object it once was.

It is clear that both companies had different visions regarding their products. This vision is fundamental to the company’s future as it outlines what to preserve and what to change. Based on the fact that the surface tablets are a success and that apple has introduced an iPad pro, I think that it would be safe to say that Microsoft seems to be in front at the moment as far as predicting user needs go. Yet only time will tell as to who got it right and as to who knows what people may demand in tomorrow’s world.

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