It takes more than revenue to succeed in the technology industry. There's also something called relevance. In recent years, that's been something Microsoft has sorely lacked. At least until now. Not only does Microsoft seem to have found its relevancy footing, it seems ready for a while new fight.
In recent months, Microsoft has made it clear that it wants to own the creative market. That's a market that has traditionally been owned by Apple. Products such as Windows Creative and devices like Surface Studio showed Microsoft was serious.
Microsoft wasn't just content with targeting creatives, though. At their last event, the company set its sights on education as well.
Forget music. If anything is part of Apple's DNA it is education. An entire generation grew up with the Apple ][, Oregon Trail, and Reader Rabbit (formerly owned by Shark Tank shark, Mr. Wonderful). Another generation, the iMac.
Today, Apple in education is under siege, though. On the low-end, Google is hitting hard with Chromebooks and services-as-software.
Now Microsoft is re-joining the fray. There's a new Surface Laptop that could best be described as the retina MacBook Air Apple never shipped. It's not just beautiful, it comes with Windows S, a version of Windows that would bring all the traditional benefits of Microsoft's desktop but with iOS-style security, including being lock-downed to the Windows Store.
A number of Microsoft's partners will be shippings Windows S devices as well. They'll be as cheap as a Chromebook but with a lot more horsepower. Certainly a lot cheaper than an Apple device, including iPad.
Google may still have an ace-in-the-hole, though: Those aforementioned services-as-software. Talking to several principals and superintendents, more and more often I'm hearing it's the Google cloud that matters to them the most.
We'll have to wait and see how it all shakes out but one thing's clear: Microsoft might have lost the phone battle but it's getting ready for a whole new chapter in the personal computing war.