Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) took several swipes at Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) during its event in San Francisco on Tuesday, and many saw Apple’s announcement to release OS X Mavericks, iLife and iWork for free as a shot across Microsoft’s brow.
Well, it seems Microsoft has heard, and the Redmond, Wash.-based company would like to disagree.
Frank Shaw, the corporate vice president at Microsoft, took some time Wednesday during a trip to Abu Dhabi to address the Apple announcement -- and the press reaction to it -- on the official Microsoft blog.
“Seems like the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) typically generated by an Apple event has extended beyond Cupertino,” Shaw said.
Shaw started by pointing out how the Microsoft Surface still retails for less than the Apple iPad 2, and that the Microsoft Surface 2 is less expensive than the new Apple iPad Air. The Microsoft tablets come preloaded with Microsoft Office, which Shaw said makes the decision to offer iWork for free a meaningless decision.
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Microsoft sees its line of Surface tablets as products built with business productivity in mind as much as entertainment. Shaw fired back at Apple, saying the company is trying to convince consumers that iPads work for business with “watered down productivity apps” and “aftermarket input devices.”
“Now, since iWork has never gotten much traction, and was already priced like an afterthought, it’s hardly that surprising or significant a move,” Shaw said, referring to the Apple announcement that iWork would come free on new hardware.
As Microsoft commercials have tried to express, the ability of the Surface to offer side-by-side multitasking trumps the features of iOS 7 when it comes to productivity. Shaw included a list of features that he claims makes the Surface tablets more attractive, such as more storage, the keyboard and kickstand functionality of the cover, USB ports and SD card slots.
“So, when I see Apple drop the price of their struggling, lightweight productivity apps, I don’t see a shot across our bow, I see an attempt to play catch up,” Shaw said.
Of course, Apple announced during its Tuesday event that it has sold 170 million iPads, an amount it claims is four times that of all other tablets put together. Microsoft, on the other hand, had to write down $900 million on its Surface RT. Though to be fair, Microsoft does claim that pre-order stock of the Surface 2 has sold out.
At any rate, the gloves are coming off between the two longtime tech rivals. The real question is whether either company has enough fight to contend with Google.