Joe Wilcox said that Microsoft is trying “to steal Macworld thunder” in a new article for CNET. Wilcox contended that Microsoft has timed several announcements about new technologies that seemingly have more than a coincidental relationship with Apple’s own grab at the media spotlight with this week’s Macworld Conference & Expo in New York.
Among the announcements emerging this week are early details about a new Microsoft digital media technology called Corona, which will emerge as Windows Media 9 Series. Microsoft offered some preliminary details about the technology in advance of a public beta that isn’t expected to emerge until September. Microsoft will also publish Windows XP Media Center Edition in time for the holidays — a challenge to Apple’s own pitch as the Macintosh serving as the hub of the digital lifestyle. Wilcox said other related Microsoft announcements will be forthcoming this week, as well.
What’s more, Microsoft yesterday levied alarming criticisms of Apple’s marketing of OS X in a new article in the Wall Street Journal, which quoted Microsoft’s MacBU head Kevin Browne as saying that unless sales of Office v.X and its next version don’t pick up, the company may have to assess its position in the Mac market. Browne recently started a three month sabbatical, according to Wilcox.
Wilcox suggested that Microsoft’s saber-rattling is part of a concerted effort by the company to remind Apple that it is dependent on Microsoft to deliver cornerstone applications to the Mac market, especially at the tail end of a five year business agreement between the two companies that will not be extended.
The difference is illustrated in the opinions of executives with both organizations. Schiller told Wilcox that Apple is “certainly more aggressive” than Microsoft in engineering an operating system it intends to deploy over its entire market. Browne complained that “Apple has spent 20 times” more to market iPods than it has to advertise Mac OS X, and said his company is worried about “the long term.”
Microsoft is concerned about much lower-than-anticipated sales for Office v.X, said Wilcox, but it’s not entirely Apple’s fault — the cost of buying Office for Mac OS X is much higher for many Mac users than it is for Windows PC users who can get Office XP Small Business Edition at a subsidized price.