Apple’s and Microsoft’s rivalry is back and getting ‘testier’ over gaming and more

Apple and Microsoft have been around long enough that they know what a rivalry looks like. They also understand, just like Intel, what “competitive fun” looks like, too. But it looks like the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft is ramping up again.

That’s according to a new report today from Bloomberg, which takes a look at the two companies in light of the ongoing Epic Games vs. Apple antitrust battle that’s going on right now. There’s no doubt whatsoever that Microsoft isn’t the happiest with Apple right now, because it’s the latter’s decisions towards the App Store that has prevented the former from launching one of its most anticipated components: xCloud, or cloud gaming.

But, it’s not just about gaming, either. The report states that Apple’s goals for augmented reality, and an overall renewed competitive push in the personal computer market, has led to both Apple and Microsoft getting “testier” towards one another.

When it comes to AR, Apple and Microsoft have taken different paths that will probably lead to the same destination, one way or another. Microsoft has leaned heavily into its Hololens physical device, while Apple has leaned more towards software with things like ARKit. Apple doesn’t have a piece of hardware yet, and Microsoft doesn’t have its own software. But both companies see a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to AR, with big gains to be had.

The battle over the PC market is nothing new, but with Apple’s push into its own processors with the M1 series, things have heated up quite significantly.

And then there’s Epic Games. Microsoft has taken the side of that company because it doesn’t agree with how Apple runs the App Store. Especially when it comes to cloud gaming. While Apple has made some changes to its App Store policy to technically make it possible for cloud game services like xCloud, Amazon’s Luna, and others to exist, it’s not easy. And, as Microsoft has said, it means that even with these changes xCloud won’t exist as a dedicated app made available through the App Store.

As a result, Microsoft, and the other companies, have had to rely on Safari and other mobile web browsers to support their cloud gaming experiences. It’s not the most ideal situation, but it works. Still, Microsoft would very much like Apple to have to open things up a bit, and, as a result, is arguing on the side of Epic Games, which has led to frustration between Microsoft and Apple.

From the report:

The renewed antipathy between Apple and Microsoft started about a year ago. Microsoft had developed a cloud gaming service for iPhones and iPads called xCloud. One app would let users pay a monthly fee to Microsoft and stream dozens of different gaming titles from the cloud. The service was supposed to do for gaming what Netflix did for video, appease gamers and turn Apple devices into a more powerful gaming platform backed by Xbox, one of the hottest names in the industry.

But Microsoft never launched the service in its intended form, having failed to persuade Apple to loosen App Store rules forbidding all-in-one gaming services. Originally, Microsoft was barred from launching any cloud-based games at all. But a few months after concerns over the ban on streaming apps went public, Apple tweaked the rules. Microsoft can now launch a cloud gaming service, but each game must be downloaded separately, defeating the purpose of an all-in-one solution. Now Microsoft is rolling out the service on Apple devices via the web, a much less optimal experience than a real app.

It’s absolutely worth reading the full piece over at Bloomberg, especially considering how far back the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft goes. Apparently it’s only going to get even more crazy in the months and years ahead.