Updated: Sep 30, 2020
Yes, it's true, Microsoft is in love with Apple Silicon. Why would they be? Read on.
Apple Silicon matters
Apple Silicon matters to Apple, and it matters to the entire computing industry. Read why here.
Microsoft cares? Really?
Yes. It really is true. Microsoft (secretly) loves Apple Silicon.
Once you understand why, you'll have that same lightbulb moment that we had. Let me explain.
Much like a game of football, Microsoft and Apple have been rivals, both trying to capture the title of Software King. Some would argue that Apple has won, with the popularity of iOS and macOS. Others would argue that Microsoft was already the software king ten years before the iPod, with Windows and DOS.
However, more like a game of tennis, the balls in their respective courts have been volleyed back and forth of late, with Apple exerting more and more control over the integration of its hardware and software, while Microsoft has been kicking goals and scoring with its Surface devices, and the ever-popular Microsoft-branded keyboards and mice.
Or perhaps like a game of baseball, they've both been rounding the bases and chasing each other of late, with no one really winning anything.
Microsoft's three year plan to have "Office Everywhere" has been a winner, with Office apps appearing on Android and iOS, alongside their Windows counterparts. Moreover, Microsoft's most recent foray has been the Surface Duo, an ARM-based device that we're told is more tablet than phone, but it dies definitely make phone calls and video calls. Is this a shot at the iPhone?
While Microsoft's previous attempts to dethrone the iPhone failed, regardless of the millions of dollars it ploughed in to software with Windows Phone and Windows Mobile, and the billions more in hardware when it purchased Nokia's phone business.
Why Android? Not many people know that Microsoft owns patents to key core components of Android, with Google owning the rest.
So, why does Microsoft secretly love Apple Silicon?
It's simple really.
Android and almost every decent Android phone runs on an ARM chip.
While Microsoft has struggled in the past to get Windows RT running with stability on ARM, it has had a bigger challenge in getting developers to write apps for Windows ARM devices like the Surface RT and the new Surface Pro X.
The Microsoft Surface RT was a dismal failure primarily due to its incompatibility with the majority of Windows software from both Microsoft and partners like Adobe and others.
Don't get me started on the Microsoft Zune, which tried to compete with the iPod.
Windows Phone was bad, I'll give you that; but Windows Mobile was a great operating system, but it died due to a lack of apps.
The Surface Pro X is a remarkable piece of hardware - a tablet with a futuristic design, great performance and interoperability, but it suffers slightly when faced with running non-native apps.
All of this goes to explain why Microsoft launched the Surface Duo (let's call it a phone even if Microsoft tells us it's not one), running Android: because Android has great apps in the Google Play Store.
A trail of death and destruction
There is a long trail of death and destruction in phone hardware.
Where Apple and Google have succeeded, others have failed. Nokia: dead. Palm: dead. Blackberry: dead. Windows Phone dead. Windows Mobile: dead. Danger: dead.
The short version is this:
Microsoft is very comfortable in its Intel playground when it comes to computing: desktops and laptops.
Microsoft needs to innovate in tablets. It has been doing this with the Surface Pro (intel) line, and with the Surface Pro X (ARM) line. Other vendors like HP, Lenovo, Dell, and so on, will follow Microsoft's lead.
Microsoft doesn't need to innovate in phones, but it desperately WANTS to innovate in phones. With previous efforts all leading to dead ends, Android is the best option, and perhaps the only real choice in a crowd of one. If you're not Apple, you've only really got Android and Android to choose from.
Why Apple Silicon success matters to Microsoft
Apple has three main parts: Hardware, Software, and Services.
Apple's computing hardware competes with Microsoft and Microsoft's partners like Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, and so on.
Apple's phone hardware competes with Google and Google's partners, such as Samsung, OnePlus, Oppo, Sony, and the rest.
Apple's computing software competes with Microsoft.
Apple's phone software competes with Google.
If Apple Silicon Macs succeed, it creates innovation in the computing space. Microsoft wants to be seen as an innovator and as a winner in the computing space, and it can already lay claim to beating Apple in the ARM-chip race when it launched the Surface RT and the Surface Pro X, years and years ago.
The more laptop and desktop devices Apple sells, the more eyeballs are on Microsoft's iOS software such as Office and OneDrive. Win win.
The more phone devices Apple sells, the more eyeballs are on Microsoft's iOS software. Win win.
Moreover, if Apple Silicon Macs succeed, then a boatload of software will be written for the ARM architecture, and Microsoft is keen for developers to write apps and software for ARM, for Microsoft's ARM devices likes the Surface Pro X and the Surface Duo. This only stands to benefit both parties. It's the one rare occasion where Apple's roadmap helps Microsoft. Big time.
The upcoming Microsoft Surface Neo is a dual-screen tablet running on ARM. It stands to gain the most ground if it has a suite of ARM-compatible software to use on it.
Microsoft has a track record of winning in the hardware realm and in the operating system realm, but failing badly when it comes to apps.
Apple Silicon is of course driven by Apple, but it will spawn development of ARM-compatible apps, which will bolster Microsoft's weakest area - apps written for ARM devices. This translates to success for the Surface Pro X and Surface Neo.
Until next time,
Who is Xavier Zymantas?
Xavier Zymantas started out as the boy genius and piano player who completed 12 years of schooling by age 15, started university at age 15, finished two IT degrees by age 19, worked as a computer programmer for 9 years, then became self employed as a technology consultant. Xavier moved into general consulting and now offers insights, tips, tricks and techniques across a range of business areas.
Xavier's mind works differently, and he often uses techniques from speech, music, travel, business, and life to generate outcomes specific to each business. While each problem may be different, shockingly the solutions are remarkably similar.