Brighthand Bytes

Mar 21 2012   4:29PM GMT

Microsoft Employees Forbidden to Buy Apple Products

Ed Hardy Ed Hardy Profile: Ed Hardy

An internal Microsoft memo that has leasked out indicates that Microsoft employees are no longer allowed to use company funds to purchase products made by Apple. This is a sign that the competition between these two has heated up again.

Way back in the 1980s, Microsoft and Apple were bitter rivals in the personal computer market. Apple was ahead at first, but Microsoft eventually came from behind to triumph. By the mid-1990s, Apple was in such dire straights that it was brought back from the brink of bankruptcy only with a bit of help from its old rival. The hatchet had been buried, and Microsoft enjoyed a comfortably huge lead over Apple for another decade.

But a few years ago the competition between these two entered a new phase: Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, and fairly quickly it pushed Microsoft’s Windows Phone off the top spot. And then came the debut of the iPad, and now some pundits are saying that tablets might make PCs irrelevant.

Microsoft had been complacent about Apple for years, as OS X has such a tiny percantange of the sales enjoyed by Windows. But Apple is winning in the smartphone and tablet markets, and Microsoft is taking note.

The most obvious ways the giant from Redmond has reacted is by replacing the business-oriented Windows Mobile with the more consumer-friendly Windows Phone, and by the ongoing development of a version of Windows designed to run on tablets. But Microsoft is reacting in small ways to — like the aforementioned memo informing its employees that the company won’t be buying them any more Apple products.

At first blush this seems petty, but there’s at least one good reason for it: it always looks bad when your employyees are seen by outsiders using a rival’s products. And it’s not an unusual policy — I’m sure Ford doesn’t by many Chrysler cars for its executives to use.

On the other hand, I’m sure some people will take this as a sign that the Apple has Microsoft spooked, and the Windows-maker is therefore running scared. To me that seems a bit extreme, but I do think there’s small grain of truth to it. Microsoft can no longer afford to smile indulgently at Apple, because it’s once again a serious rival.

If you want to read over the memo that leaked out of Microsoft, I’ve copied it below:

From: Alain Crozier
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 1:17 PM

Subject: Apple Purchases

Within SMSG we are putting in place a new policy that says that Apple products (Mac & iPad) should not be purchased with company funds.

In the US we will be turning off the Apple products from the Zones Catalog next week, which is the standard purchasing mechanism for these products.

Outside of the US — we will work with your finance and procurement teams to send the right message and put the right processes in place.

The current purchase levels are low, however we recognize there will be a bit of transition work associated with this. Details of historical purchases in the US are provided in the attachment to help understand the changes that will be needed.Thank you for your support and leadership on this.

Alain Crozier
CFO | WW Sales, Marketing & Services Group
WW SMSG Finance


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