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Why Apple and Microsoft are suddenly playing nice

Matt Kapko | Sept. 18, 2015
Tense history aside, Apple and Microsoft now share considerable opportunities in the business world. Both IT administrators and users stand to benefit if friendly relations between the two technology leaders continue to develop, according to analysts and industry watchers.

These aren't exact the sentiments of friendly corporations, but that was then, and today is a different story … for now.

"Who to know better about productivity than Microsoft?" Phil Schiller, Apple's vice president of marketing, asked a notably quiet crowd at the company's event last week before inviting Microsoft on stage to demonstrate new Office 365 features for the iPad Pro.

"Though the companies absolutely still compete, the increased degree of rationality at Microsoft has opened the door to partnerships and other forms of working together," says Dawson.

REUTERS/ Beck Diefenbach
Kirk Koenigsbauer (L), Corporate Vice President, Office 365 Client Apps and Services Team, is greeted by Phil Schiller as he takes the stage to discuss Microsoft Office for the iPad Pro during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California, September 9, 2015

'Real magic happens' when Apple, Microsoft cooperate

Chip Pearson, the former CEO of JAMF Software, a mobile device management vendor for Apple products, who's now focused on strategic partnerships, says the "real magic happens" when Apple and Microsoft work together on products for enterprise. "I believe that in a perfect world, an organization or user has Microsoft applications and backend services running on Apple endpoints." 

IT administrators and users both benefit from having their technology needs met through the cooperation and coexistence of both companies, according to Pearson. "It's hard to look at any human endeavor where two groups of very capable and skilled people weren't able to do more when working together."

Of course, there's no telling how long relations between the two competitive companies will continue to be friendly. "Many things change on a cyclical pattern, and there does seem to be a historical precedent for the warming trend to continue," says Pearson. "However, history isn't destiny, and humans working together for their common goals is good as long as both parties are getting their needs met."

Dawson has an equally positive outlook for the companies' alliance in enterprise, but he sees more subtle signs of compromise instead of more formal partnerships like the ones Apple struck with IBM and Cisco. "As long as Microsoft stays on this more rational, open course with regard to developing software for third party devices and platforms, I can only see the relationship continuing to warm up."


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