How Apple outflanked Microsoft in both business and education

The iPad is challenging Microsoft in its business stronghold and stealing sales of Windows PCs in education, where tomorrow's customers are

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At the same time, Apple's OS X and iOS are playing better and better in corporate environments, and the Apple ecosystem is growing in new places. Last month, for example, Cisco Systems announced plans to add code to its wireless LAN controllers to make Apple's Bonjour-based zero-configuration networking technologies like AirPlay and AirPrint behave better on enterprise networks. Cisco isn't alone; Aerohive and Aruba Networks are planning similar Bonjour gateways. Now, mobile management companies such as AirWatch, AppSense, AT&T, MobileIron, and Symantec have added Macs to what their tools can manage, taking advantage of the hooks Apple has added in the last two versions of OS X.

On a less technical level, OS X -- via its native Boot Camp and through programs like Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion -- makes it much easier to run familiar Windows applications, including Microsoft Office. OS X also supports Windows networks.

Take an iPad to school -- not a PC

It's not just businesses and the vendors that serve them that are shifting to Apple. The shift to iPads in education was dramatic in the April-to-June quarter. Says Wolf: "We believe the inescapable conclusion is that the iPad is beginning to cannibalize a material portion of PC sales in this market." Mac sales in business declined very slightly in that quarter to about 520,000 units, whereas overall PC sales declined from 1.90 million to 1.64 million units, Wolf says. In other words, much of the money formerly spent on Windows PCs has shifted to iPads, and the amount of money for Macs is stable.

Although it hasn't been confirmed, there's certainly reason to believe that Apple is going to announce the "iPad Mini" later this fall, at a lower price than the full-sized iPad. If it does materialize, the iPad Mini becomes an attractive alternative for cash-strapped schools. By comparison, the Windows 8-powered Surface is expected to cost as much as an Ultrabook. And it's hard to picture teachers and school district purchasing agents wanting to buy the cheaper Surface running Windows RT, a Metro-only version of Windows 8, because its software capabilities will be so unfamiliar to them -- and much more llmited than what an iPad provides.

All of this dramatically raises the stakes for Windows 8 and Surface. Windows 8 has gotten terrible early reviews; my colleague J. Peter Bruzzese, a true Microsoft believer, dubbed it "Windows Frankenstein." The prospects for the Surface are less clear, but even if it is nicely designed, the new tablet may be too a thin reed to base Microsoft's hopes of slowing the rising Apple tide.

I welcome your comments, tips, and suggestions. Post them here (Add a comment) so that all our readers can share them, or reach me at bill@billsnyder.biz. Follow me on Twitter at BSnyderSF.

This article, "How Apple outflanked Microsoft in both business and education," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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