Microsoft unveiled a range of new Surface, 3D and creative products last night, in a move some in the channel have claimed proves the vendor is out-innovating Apple.
Microsoft showed off the Surface Studio at its New York launch event, a device which transfsorms from a workstation "into a powerful digital canvas". The screen changes from desktop mode to studio mode and sits at a 20° angle - the same as a standard drafting board - which Microsoft claims makes it ideal for sketching and designers.
Another Surface Book was previewed at the event, as well as the Windows 10 Creators' Update, which is "a comprehensive vision across hardware and software" promoting the use of 3D. A progression from Microsoft Paint, the update will act as a 3D art studio, Microsoft says.
Dan Scarfe, founder of Microsoft partner New Signature, said Microsoft is "absolutely" winning the innovation battle against Apple.
"They're very specific about who they are focused on - it's designers, creatives, engineers, and people who create things with pens, [and] how can you reimagine the way they work now with a device like this," he said.
Mitchell Feldman, CEO of RedPixie, agreed and said he "100 per cent" agrees that Microsoft is winning against Apple. "The dog has had its day," he said. "I think it's [Surface Studio] a brilliant product - I can't wait to get one."
Jonathan Wagstaff (pictured), country manager at analyst Context, said Microsoft's focus on creative customers is telling.
"It seems to me like an extension of the Surface Pro versus iPad Pro [battle]," he said. "A lot of my channel contacts were saying everyone is going to buy the Surface Pro over the iPad Pro because it's a Windows platform and iPad Pros are not really targeted at Windows users. But what we've seen in the sales data is that both of them have performed very, very well. It's surprising how well the iPad Pro has done.
"So in reply to that [Microsoft] has a new device which even looks like an iMac, let's be honest. Traditionally Macs were what you bought to do graphic design. They're invading Apple's traditional territory."
Satya Nadella took over from Microsoft at the start of 2014, after a decades-long technical career at the firm. He replaced Steve Ballmer, whose experience prior to taking on the CEO role was mainly in sales.
New Signature's Scarfe said this has been significant for Microsoft's innovation battle against Apple.
"A technologist has taken over again and Microsoft has turned it around," he said.
"Apple are still in this operations [phase]. A new, engineering [focused], visionary CEO is what you really need to build these visionary products and they are doing it time and time again now. They're redesigning what it means to work with a computer."
Stuart Fenton, CEO of Microsoft partner QuantiQ, agreed and said:
"When the business leader of a technology company is a technologist - as Satya is, as Bill Gates was, as Steve Jobs was - those companies are invigorated and inspirational and innovative. When tech companies are run by salespeople, they tend to lack an edge that is required to be successful. Satya embraces competitors - which is a major step [away] from Steve Ballmer - and he's delivered on the cloud and brought together applications in a way only a technologist who really loves the technology could.
"The innovation on the Surface products certainly offsets the lack of excitement in their mobile telephony products."
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