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Microsoft vs. Apple: Strategies change but the battle continues

The Microsoft vs. Apple argument is getting old. At this point, it's safe to say there's enough room in the enterprise for both tech giants. Still, it's difficult to ignore when one starts to surpass the other in either enterprise or consumer popularity.

Earlier this month, Apple revealed to TechCrunch that Windows 10 is four times as popular as macOS or OS X, with 400 million estimated devices running Microsoft's OS. And earlier in 2016, Microsoft claimed that disappointment over the MacBook Pro drove sales of the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4.

Although the numbers suggest Windows 10 is more popular, it's also important to note that Windows 10 is available on more tablets and laptops than macOS or iOS, with greater options for entry-level and budget models. It's easier to own multiple Windows 10 devices on a budget, compared to Apple's smartphones, tablets and notebooks.

These numbers don't suggest Apple is failing in the enterprise -- quite the opposite. A survey conducted by Dimensional Research for Jamf, a company that offers management software for Apple devices, found Mac and iPad adoption are on the rise in the enterprise. Of the 300 IT professionals, managers and executives surveyed, 99% said their organization uses iPhones and iPads, while 91 percent say they have Macs in-house.

It's clear that Microsoft and Apple both continue to grow and succeed in consumer and enterprise markets, but what's interesting is that each company has taken a different road to enterprise adoption.

Passing the baton

Apple's "Think Different" campaign in 1997 positioned its as the underdog to Microsoft. The company offered a refreshing take on technology as the first company to prioritize style and performance. The public responded, and Apple overtook Microsoft in consumer popularity, establishing the brand as a status symbol. It wasn't long before Apple established itself as the industry-standard for creative workers.

It was Microsoft's turn as the underdog, facing criticism for Windows Vista, Windows 8 and the Surface RT. Microsoft took the heat and used it to improve its Surface lineup and Windows, finally nailing it with the Surface Pro 4, Surface Book and Windows 10. Just like Apple, Microsoft asked consumers to rethink the idea of a notebook, and to embrace a new standard in computing with the Surface lineup.

Now, Apple is in the hot seat for frustrating its fan base with a missing headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and a growing pile of adapters and dongles for the Macbook. As TechCrunch reports that Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller has acknowledged these missteps with a promise to innovate.

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