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Apple and Google Are Using iOS and Android in an Effort to Take Down Microsoft's Windows

When it comes to the operating systems that power traditional PCs, Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Windows remains the undisputed champion. Windows, in all its various forms, is installed on more than 90% of world's desktop and laptop computers.

Could that change? Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG  ) (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) are beginning to take advantage of their mobile dominance, using the mammoth market shares of Android and iOS to bolster the relative strengths of their respective desktop operating systems.

Although this trend remains in its infancy, the growing power of Apple and Google's mobile ecosystems stands as a long-term threat to the continued viability of Microsoft's operating system.

Yosemite's new features
Earlier this month, at its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled the next version of its Mac operating system: OS X Yosemite.

Yosemite includes a number of helpful features, many of which will benefit all owners of Apple's computers. But not everyone will be able to take advantage of everything Yosemite brings to the table -- in order to do so, Mac users will also need to own Apple's mobile devices.

Collectively, Apple refers to Yosemite's iOS integration as "Continuity."

Continuity is composed of a number of individual features that allow Apple's iPhones and iPads to work well with Apple's Macs. Examples include Handoff (allowing iPhone owners to do things like compose an email on their phone, then quickly finish it on their Mac) and call integration (letting Mac owners receive and respond to phone calls from their computer).

Many owners of Apple's Macs also own Apple's mobile devices, but many buyers of Apple's mobile devices don't own a Mac. According to a recent survey from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, just one-quarter of the consumers who recently purchased an iPad owned a Mac, and only 28% of iPhone buyers had an Apple-made PC.

Given the relative market share of Microsoft's Windows, it's likely that many iPhone owners use a Windows-powered PC. As Continuity rolls out this fall, and Apple continues to support it, Windows PC owners that have an iPhone or iPad could eventually be enticed to make the switch.

Google has its own version of Continuity
Google unveiled some Continuity-like features of its own at its developers conference on Wednesday. Chromebooks, the laptops powered by Google's web-dependent operating system, will soon be able to interface with nearby Android handsets.

Like Apple's Macs, Google's Chromebooks will give their owners the ability to answer calls from their laptop. Chromebooks will also unlock instantly when they detect that their owner's Android handset is nearby.

Google won't be able to match Apple's Handoff right away, but intends to eventually offer something similar. Google announced that it will bring Android apps to Chrome OS at some unspecified future date -- and when it does, apps installed on the Chromebook could easily interface with the apps on the owner's Android-powered handset.

Microsoft's mobile efforts continue to struggle
Microsoft hasn't announced anything like Continuity for Windows Phone, but even if it does, it may have a difficult time driving adoption.

Microsoft has been supporting Windows Phone for years, but despite spending billions, has relatively little to show for it. According to research firm Canalys, Microsoft's smartphone operating system powered just 3% of the phones sold worldwide in the first quarter (Apple's iOS took 16%, and Google's Android accounted for 81%).

If it had pushed something like Continuity years ago, Microsoft may have been able to drive Windows Phone adoption. As it stands, smartphones appear to have overtaken traditional PCs in importance -- according to ExactTarget, 85% of smartphone owners say that mobile computing is a central part of their day-to-day life, and they tend to use their smartphone an average of 3.3 hours per day.

It won't happen overnight, but the increasing integration between Apple and Google's mobile devices and their desktop operating systems stands to put further pressure on Microsoft's Windows. Unless Microsoft can gain a foothold in the smartphone market, Apple's Macs and Google's Chromebooks could slowly chip away at Microsoft's Windows.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2014, at 10:55 PM, lionbon wrote:

    Another anti-Microsoft article that is shortsighted and narrow-mindedly written. At 81% mobile dominance achieved not by quality of their product, but by giving away free software, Google has reached its climax and will gradually go down as it's currently doing and evidenced in the Google I/O conference where due to fear of Microsoft's strategy they are producing Android L and Android one to stem the tide of Microsoft rise outside the United States. There are 1.7 billion installed base of Windows and with current Microsoft' strategies the 90% dominance will continue, as Microsoft is now making and will continue to make great devices that will erode Apple's and Androids high end smartphone and tablet dominance. Windows Tablets are now 15% in Asia and Japan. The writer of this article assumes that only Google and Apple's engineers and designers are smart and have monopoly on high tech ideas innovation and try ignorantly to suggest without intelligent technical facts that only Windows and other Microsoft's offering, have bugs and glitches while the 'Saintly' Apple's and Google's offerings are in the words of 'Star Trek's 'BORG' Perfect. Microsoft empire should be prepared to be 'Assimilated' by Google and Apple. 'Resistance from Microsoft is futile'. Again borrowing from the 'BORG'. I don't dislike Apple, but after 40 years of existence and the false claims by their cohorts including this article's writer to their revolutionary and all knowing prowess.. they have only 16% mobile dominance and less than 6% desktop market share? This writer I bet by this narrow article has not read and understand the full features of Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 and the upcoming features. This writer in blind bias forgets that Microsoft has been a software company for nearly 40 years and got there by innovation , incremental or revolutionary. Give Microsoft and people the world over who use it the respect they deserve. Nobody or no company is perfect. Certainly not Google and even more certainly not Apple. Microsoft has succeeded in many more endeavors and is more involved in more gainful endeavors in terms of width and depth than Google or Apple can think of. Google's ' water down software , make it free for everyone' and falsely promise technology to everything on earth while getting their private info to sell them adds is not the future of technology. Apple's closed ecosystem and Shylock profiteering is also not the future. Remember all these challengers to Microsoft came up because of Microsoft's decade long legal Antitrust problems instigated mostly by the principals in Apple , Google (Schmidt) and US government collaborators. Microsoft is till in the best position to be here 20 years from now. When advertising is decentralized and localized Google will be i trouble. Only source of significant income for it will be marginalized. Apple will go through the same cycle that so it nearly go bankrupt in 1997 only to be save by Bill Gates Microsoft. Its products will lose their luster and people will go to better products and sales along with profits will plummet to Apple's detriment. Microsoft has survived transition in the past 3 to 4 years and will rise luxuriantly mostly at Google's expense and also Apple's to a significant level or more.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 8:59 AM, st0815 wrote:

    Years ago "Continuity" wouldn't have been an option for MS - WP simply lacked too many features to even worry about value-adds like that. MS rightly focused on catching up to the competitors.

    Ultimately I don't see how MS can recover from it's position. They were rarely technological leaders, and almost always lacking in quality. Given that there are so many other - and better alternatives it's hard to see a good reason to switch.

    That their dominance of the mobile market was "just around the corner" is a story which they've been trying to sell for many years now. That doesn't make a breakthrough impossible, but it certainly looks unlikely.

  • Report this Comment On July 01, 2014, at 7:56 AM, Rocwurst wrote:


    MS Windows may be on 1.7 billion PCs worldwide but Apple's iOS is now on around 700 million iOS devices (iPhones,iPads and iPod touches) and Apple will ship it's 1 billionth iOS device in the next few months.

    Apple now holds 77% market share in Business mobile and 92% share in Business tablets, right in the middle of Microsoft's stronghold.

    With Apple selling a quarter of a billion iOS devices annually and sales of Mac computers on the ascendence, and Microsoft suffering flop after flop, it is obvious who is under ever threat.

    The list of Microsoft failures just keeps growing: Zune, Windows Mobile, Kin, Windows Phone, Windows 8, the Surface, Surface RT, Windows RT, Surface 2 etc

    The future is indeed looking bleak in Redmond.

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Sam Mattera

Sam has a love of all things finance. He writes about tech stocks and consumer goods.

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