Apple's iCloud May Mean Stormy Weather for Windows 8

Apple's just-announced iCloud service will do more than please the Apple faithful -- it could also spell trouble for Windows 8 and Microsoft's Windows-everywhere strategy, which is underpinned by the cloud.

Apple's iCloud May Mean Stormy Weather for Windows 8
iCloud will replace Apple's less-than-stellar predecessor, MobileMe, and will debut on October 12. Anyone with an Apple ID will be able to have all their data automatically backed up to the cloud, including documents, photos, settings, movies, and text messages. They'll then have access to all of that on up to 10 Apple devices, including iPhones, iPads, Macs, and any new iWhatevers Apple dreams up. That's all free for up to 5 GB of data. For $25 a year, you get access to your iTunes collection via the cloud, even to music you haven't paid for via iTunes.

What does this have to do with Windows 8? Plenty. A similar cloud service is at the core of Microsoft's strategy for Windows 8, both for PCs and tablets, as well as Windows Phone 7. But in Microsoft's case, that cloud is only a promise. It wasn't working yet in the Windows 8 Developer Preview; you could only back up settings to the cloud, and not documents. And nowhere has there been a mention of a cloud-based music service like iCloud will have.

So well before Windows 8 is released, Apple will have a robust cloud service that is at least as capable, and possibly more capable, than the one that Microsoft will release with Windows 8. That means that the cloud will not be a big Windows 8 differentiator.

This doesn't mean that Macs will outsell Windows 8 machines; far from it. But it may make Apple even a more formidable competitor for desktops and laptops than it is now.

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