In this month's column Robert Peckham take a closer look at Apple's competition

Robert Peckham: Microsoft’s extraordinary redesign of Windows puts it in league with Apple

Robert Peckham takes a look at whether the current roster of Apple products is still capable of dominating the competition – with surprising results.

My last column raised some points about how Apple’s current management might not be steering the future path of the technology giant. Nothing I said was new, or particularly different to what other commentators have already written about, but it certainly generated some feedback.

So, I decided that instead of just hearing from everyone about the viable alternatives to Apple’s products, I thought I’d take a closer look and feel for myself.

The iPod Touch is still pretty unbeatable for features and sheer gorgeous design, but the new raft of Android-powered MP3 players from Samsung, Archos, and most recently Sony, make the conformity of Apple’s iTunes look very constricting indeed.

How about iPhone? The latest Android phones compete admirably against Apple and iOS. The number and variety of apps still has a long way to go to match Apple’s armoury, but each passing day sees Google edging closer to surpassing Apple’s domination of the smartphone market, and having used a Samsung Galaxy for a week, I can now see why Apple is worried.

iPad? I was so impressed with the Samsung phone that I borrowed a Galaxy tablet, and was loaned a Google Nexus 10. Apps apart, I really wonder why so many people are spending all that extra money on iPads.

Mac? Well this is where Apple should really be concerned. The MacBook hardware designs are gorgeous, but Sony, Toshiba, ASUS and Samsung all have very credible and far cheaper models. Is there an alternative to Apple’s iMac? Well, yes, from Dell primarily, but what used to set Apple apart was the Mac OS, and this is where Apple needs to really start worrying, because Microsoft is fighting back.

With Windows 7, Microsoft came pretty close to catching up with Mac OS X, but Windows 8 has stunned me, as I know it has for many other Apple users who were convinced that Microsoft would never have a truly viable alternative to the Mac OS.

Microsoft has achieved what Apple have been working towards for the past three years – a totally integrated operating system that works the same way on full-size computers, portable devices and mobile phones.

What follows is a sentence that I never believed I would see myself ever typing, but the extraordinary redesign of Windows that Microsoft has now unleashed really puts it into Apple’s league for ease of use, logic and simplicity.

Apple has announced the next release of Mac OS X, v10.9, will be called Lynx, and will be released sometime next spring; whether it will put it back ahead of Microsoft Windows, we’re going to have to wait and see.

Robert Peckham is a 20-year veteran of the Apple reseller channel in the UK, and has managed many major Apple resellers. He founded the Mac Technology Association and was a director of the Technology Channels Association until their merger with CompTIA. He now runs MacTechnology, a consultancy for the Apple reseller channel which includes the Mac Tech Team support service.

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