Memo to Microsoft: Partner Now on Apple Watch

Dear Microsoft: When the original Mac launched in 1984, Bill Gates ensured that you were among the first software companies to back Apple's new platform. It was good for Apple. Good for Microsoft. And good for customers.

But under Bill Gates' successor (namely, Steve Ballmer) you lost your way. Microsoft laughed at the iPhone launch. Then you scrambled to counter the iPad launch. You introduced your own phones and tablets to counter Apple. But you dismissed customer needs and forgot your software developer DNA, initially ignoring the opportunity to deliver native apps on Apple iOS.

Getting It Right (Again)

Only now, under new CEO Satya Nadella, do you seem serious again about cross platform support. And that brings me to the point of this memo: You've got to embrace Apple Watch now -- before it ships in 2015.

Of course, you should still develop your own wearable gear. And I look forward to the upcoming Microsoft fitness band

But we all know how Apple makes markets. And Apple Watch could be a market maker. Slated to ship in early 2015, Apple Watch -- according to slick marketing claims -- will be the "most personal" device Apple has ever designed. The company claims:

  • "You won't just see and respond to messages, calls, and notifications easily and intuitively. You'll actually feel them. With Apple Watch, every exchange is less about words on a screen. And more about making a genuine connection." My view of Microsoft's opportunity: Skype, Office 365, Lync, Yammer, Office 365 and other Microsoft offerings must have native apps for Apple Watch.
  • Apple Watch will offer "Glances -- scannable summaries of the information you seek most frequently." Hello, Microsoft: Surely, Skype, Office 365, Exchange and more MUST support glances.
  • Apple Watch will will deliver "real-time notifications for incoming mail, messages and calls." Hello Yet Again, Microsoft: Office 365, Lync, Exchange and more must be supported here.

Apple: Ship WatchKit to Redmond

Sometime in November 2014, Apple is expected to release WatchKit -- a software developer kit for Apple Watch. Hopefully, Microsoft will get its hands on WatchKit. But Microsoft shouldn't have to beg for the SDK.

Indeed, Apple must also show Microsoft lots of love. Having Microsoft Apps on Apple Watch is good for Apple, good for Microsoft -- and most of all, great for customers.

Even when they were at war, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs often found common ground upon which to work. Let's hope Tim Cook and Satya Nadella do the same. The time is now for a Microsoft-Apple Watch partnership.

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