*Not really SharePoint related*
Apparently most people here don’t understand the foundation and far-reaching effects of Microsoft’s enterprise software. Businesses large and small are greatly investing in information technology for information workers – which are primarily the results of either Microsoft produced or partner developed/enhanced software. There is also great growth in Microsoft based server products particularly SharePoint technologies (totally understated sleeper – fastest growing product family of all time for all of Microsoft’s products).
Given that the Office suite is a business staple, as web based collaboration (SharePoint) technologies continue to grow, businesses will have no choice but to keep their Office clients up to date in order to be able to take advantage of new features – technology based competitive advantage. Derivatives of this trend include the systems/products that are required to support them. These are Windows based servers and SQL databases. And need I mention the proliferation of Exchange + the emergence and continued growth of Unified Communications?
Currently, I don’t even think Microsoft has competition in the business world until CIO/CTOs really think switching to something like OpenOffice is a good idea. I don’t see this happening anytime in the near future. Who doesn’t use Microsoft Outlook at work? Can you imagine any financial analyst using anything other than Microsoft Excel?
Now let’s assume there’s a rogue Executive out there that mandates a non-Microsoft productivity suite for there business. Unfortunately, they will not be as competitive in their respective industries just by the fact that their employees will be wasting an unsurmountable of productivity trying to make their documents compatible with business partners.
Well what about custom software you ask? Guess what jobs are paying the big bucks? Say hello to Microsoft based .NET technologies. This isn’t exactly my area of expertise but I believe the speed and ease of which custom solutions can be built on top existing Microsoft platforms is another driver for enterprise growth.
And what about web-based technologies? That’s a mixed bag right now. But the next time you visit your favorite websites, take a peek at the page extensions. If they end in asp or aspx, chances are they are being served by Microsoft based servers.
As far as the Apple vs Microsoft debate goes, Apple is purely a consumer product and is completely being driven by hype. This hype is driven by the perceived ease of entrance into technology for your everyday mom,pop,non-techies that only needs to browse the web. Notice that I am not mentioning design folks as they have generally always been Apple users. The recent growth has really been from people that are buying Apple products for the ‘cool’ factor believe it or not. I really believe the root cause of their growth is not because of OS X, but because of their innovative and aesthetically pleasing hardware design. The operating system is almost a second thought to most average Joe/Jane consumers – hence, this is why everyone seems to ask what they need on their Macs to run Windows. So as long as Apple can continue to deliver ‘cool’ consumer products, I don’t see any growth hindrances.
But I do see possible threats to both Microsoft and Apple personal computers coming in the form of virtualization and VMWare, hence Mircosoft’s recent public pushes in this territory for their own hypervisor.
So in conclusion, Microsoft and Apple are competitors, but they are really competing in two really different universes. Microsoft’s ecosystem of products and presence in business productivity is just too great for any other vendor to throughly penetrate and overtake them in market share. Luckily for Apple, that leaves room in the consumer world for them conquer as they are.
Disclaimer: I have 30 shares of AAPL and Zero shares of MSFT. I believe in the hype.