It’s no secret that Apple and Microsoft are head-to-head competitors in a number of areas, ranging from desktop operating systems, with OS X and Windows, to online services, with iCloud and Windows Live, and digital media distribution with iTunes and Zune. Despite the fierce competition, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer has expressed a wish for a Metro-style iTunes app on Windows 8 by Apple.
At a Q&A session after the BUILD conference was over, Steve Ballmer made it clear that he would “welcome” a Metro-style iTunes app. According to Ballmer, there are areas where companies can compete even as they support each other in other areas. Steve Ballmer mentioned Amazon, which competes with Microsoft on the tablet and music sector, yet it works actively with the Redmond company in other areas:
Amazon is an example. They may have a device competitor, but they have certainly behaved like their fundamental business is the service. They’ve done a lot to try to have good support of other folks’ device. We welcome them. We’d welcome Metro-style apps from Amazon. We’d welcome Metro- style applications from Apple in the iTunes case. I don’t know what we’d see there but we’d certainly welcome those. And, because of compatibility, there’s certainly a path forward for everybody.
iTunes itself has been available on Windows for almost a decade, although not much work seems to be done on Apple’s part to make the application integrate more seamlessly with the Windows platform. While the current version of iTunes is solid on Windows, it’s not yet clear whether Apple will develop a whole new kind of application while its existing form will still work unchanged on Windows 8, since the operating system is also capable of running regular Windows apps in a standard desktop environment.
As you might already be aware, Microsoft took nearly three hours this week to show off its upcoming operating system, Windows 8. Among many of the features in the product is a new Start screen, a dashboard for several apps that look and feel similar to Windows Phone 7, hence the “Metro-style” designation. Sticking to Microsoft’s traditions of making its systems backwards-compatible, however, a standard desktop environment will still be available for those who need it. A Developer Preview is available to the public for download – you can download both the 32 and 64-bit versions here.