Similarities Between Apple and Microsoft

By Brian Hooper

The smartphone is just one product in which Microsoft and Apple have something in common.
i Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Apple and Microsoft have been arch-rivals for a long time, and much has been made about their differences. Differences aside, the two companies actually share a lot in common. You’d be hard-pressed to think of two other companies more responsible for the omnipresence of computing and software tools. Fittingly, both companies seem to have a permanent perch on the Fortune 500 list; for 2012, Apple is ranked No. 17, and Microsoft is No. 37. Perhaps more important to computer users is that both companies offer application software products. In particular, Apple has its iWork integrated productivity suite, whereas Microsoft has its Office suite of applications.


The co-founders of both companies are as well known as the companies they helmed. Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is revered around the world for fulfilling much of his vision to put a computer on every desk and in every home, as well as his philanthropy with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The late Steve Jobs, who co-founded Apple, was an iconoclast and a creative genius. Both men are seen as two of the greatest entrepreneurs ever. Both men have also been listed in the Time 100, a ranking of the 100 most influential people in the world. Jobs made the list five times -- in 2010, 2008, 2007, 2005 and 2004 -- and Gates made the list four times -- in 2006, 2005, 2004 -- and the special issue of those who most influenced the 20th century.

Portable Media Players and Smartphones

Each company manufactures and sells it own portable media player. The Microsoft Zune HD, in particular, competes with the Apple iPod Touch. Both devices have a 30GB storage capacity and can hold up to 7,500 songs. Moreover, they both support the H.264, MPEG-4, MP3 and AAC audio formats.

Regarding mobile communication devices, on this front, the two companies each have smartphones. The ubiquitous iPhone faces competition from Windows Phone. In fact, Windows Phone 7 won the 2012 PC Magazine Readers' Choice award.

Both companies have branded stores for users to purchase applications for their devices. Microsoft has the Windows Phone Store, formerly called Windows Phone Marketplace and, of course, Apple has the iTunes Store.

Tablet Devices

Both companies make a tablet. Apple has the iPad and Microsoft has the Surface. The Surface is slated for release in late October 2012. Admittedly, the Surface, which runs Windows RT or Windows 8, might be considered more of an ultrabook computer, as some technology journalists have opined, because of its productivity capabilities, which the iPad wasn’t designed for. But the similarities between the Surface and the iPad can’t be missed. Both have a touchscreen; both are about the same width and thickness; both were introduced under a veil of secrecy at their press events; and both belong to the premium category of the tablet market, with prices starting at about $500. The Surface is clearly positioned as Microsoft’s answer to the iPad.

Retail Stores

Like Apple, Microsoft also has retail stores; That may come as news to a lot of people. The reason is, that while Apple has more than 200 stores, Microsoft has fewer than 20. Microsoft Stores are similar to Apple Stores in that both have specialists on hand to offer hardware and software training and technical support. Apple has the Genius Bar, while Microsoft offers Microsoft Answers. Both branded stores offer a similar product mix as well: including gaming consoles and mobility products.