Look: you are reading Macworld UK, and we are huge Apple fans. And, yes, that means we aren't the least bit impressed with Microsoft. But when you are in a position of power, you should take stock and see what you can learn from rivals. Even rivals thrashing around like drowners (in hooded tops). (See also: Mac OS X Yosemite vs Windows 8 comparison review.)
As Apple has become more successful, and Microsoft more weird, the Redmond guys have become more humble, creative, and collaborative. And that means - as odd as it could seem - there are some things Apple could learn from Microsoft. Here they are.
1. Embrace gaming
Not to say that Apple Macs or iOS devices aren't great for gaming, but that is because the hardware is second to none. If you enjoy playing games on your Apple computer it is despite Apple, not because of it.
Where Microsoft has a surprisingly good record of nurturing small games developers and facilitating innovation in the gaming world, Apple's closed off App Stores are a nightmare for developers big and small. For every breakout success there are the skeletons of dozens of games developers littering the road to Apple's App Stores. The best games tend to be former Xbox and PC (and PlayStation) games, ported into Apple's world.
Gaming is important, to an increasingly wide range of end users. So Apple should follow Microsoft's lead and get with the gamers. (See also: iPad vs Xbox One for games; Xbox One vs iPad comparison and buying advice.)
2. Get into the digital home
It also needs to sort out the Apple TV because, again, with the Xbox Microsoft is making Apple look bad. It's still shocking what a good product Microsoft managed to make with the Xbox - a company with more Zunes to its name than it has great products. But the Xbox is great: first it killed in the gaming world, then it extended into being a communications and home-entertainment device. The Xbox One is set-top box, movie theatre, video caller and - yes - games console. And Apple has the Apple TV.
Controlling the living room is going to be a major battle in the coming months and years. And, oddly, Apple could also learn from Microsoft here.
3. Go cross platform
This may be a controversial viewpoint, but in an era in which loyalty to hardware products it at an all-time low, Apple continues to write great software to sell its excellent hardware, available only on its on hardware. It is clearly working well, for a billion reasons a quarter. But isn't it possible that Apple is in danger of missing a boat?
Steve Jobs himself talked about the 'Post PC' world, and it is true to say that in a connected world we use multiple software and services wherever we are, rather than going to a single PC to get stuff done. Apple has good software, and okay services. But only some of them are available on products other than Apple's own. In time this might start to hurt Apple.
It's great that we can use Windows on our Macs, but wouldn't it also be good to be able to use OS X apps on other devices? No? Just me?
One of Microsoft's most profitable products is Office for Mac. And that's a lesson Apple could learn. (See also: Microsoft Excel vs Apple Numbers for iOS review.)
4. Rule the enterprise
Apple is making smart moves in this area, as it knows it has to. The collaboration with IBM could yet yield huge dividends, because even in the world of BYOD enterprise is tech is where the money is. But keep an eye on Microsoft. Windows Phones don't need to be as good as iPhones to win the enterprise, they only need to be less terrible than BlackBerries. And Microsoft currently has the enterprise sewn up (with its biggest competition coming from Google). (See also: Microsoft Surface Pro 3 vs iPad Air comparison.)
Apple has been on top for so long that it can come over a little smug. Not even the best creative companies can be the best at everything. To a large extend Apple avoids these problems by doing only what it does well. But sometimes it gets into choppy waters when it enters new categories. (See: iCloud / iBooks.)
Microsoft is much more open. Slaggy even. Almost always Apple is on the right side of this argument, and when it isn't it usually just buys up a rival. But sometimes, just sometimes, it wouldn't hurt to be a little more collaborative. (See also: Microsoft OneDrive review.)
6. Try things. Try crazy things
We live in strange times. Apple makes sensible, iterative decisions that continue to shore up a lucrative consumer business in the most wealthy western markets. Microsoft shoots for the moon and makes bonkers products. Some of them work (Xbox One), most of them are awful (Windows 8).
In this scenario you would much rather be Apple, but post-Steve Jobs Apple must guard against complacency and going stale. The flip-flopping over smartphone- and tablet sizes was probably wise in the end, but it did speak to a creative company that is more risk averse than before. More content to follow others success rather than start with a blank sheet and design things people will love.
Apple will continue to kill Microsoft. But it wouldn't hurt to take some risks from time to time.
Again: this is weird. But under Satya Nadella Microsoft has become humble. It admits defeat. It says sorry, when it is required to. When its products are bad, it acknowledges as much and says so.
This is rarely a good thing. Apple's single-minded sense of mission is one of its strongest points. But sometimes your strength can be your weakness. And just occasionally Apple could learn to say sorry.