Apple Vs. Microsoft: Battle Of The Developer Conferences

Let The Games Begin!

Apple and Microsoft held dueling developer events in the second week of June, with Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) highlighted by CEO Steve Jobs' opening keynote and introduction of the iPhone 4, while Microsoft's TechEd 2010 was a more workmanlike affair sprinkled with plenty of education on the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant's plethora of products. Join us as we judge WWDC 2010 versus TechEd 2010 in key categories ranging from Best Venue to Best Developer Sessions. May the best Tech Titan win!

Best Location

We love San Francisco, host to Apple's WWDC 2010 earlier this month. And for once, the weather was truly gorgeous in the usually foggy City by the Bay. But New Orleans is as fun as San Francisco is fair -- and Microsoft deserves some bonus points for throwing TechEd 2010 in the Big Easy, bringing some much-needed outside dollars to a star-crossed local economy that was battered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and now suffers as the BP oil slick washes up on Gulf Coast shores.

WINNER: Microsoft

Best Venue

There's nothing wrong with the Moscone Center in San Francisco, where Apple held WWDC 2010. But if we've been there once, we’ve been there a thousand times. Microsoft hosted TechEd 2010 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, a well-appointed venue nestled on the banks of the Mississippi and boasting a state-of-the-art 4,000-seat auditorium among other amenities.

WINNER: Microsoft

Best Keynote

Sorry, Microsoft. Unless you had trotted out Bill Gates to kick off TechEd 2010, it was always going to be next to impossible to trump the opening keynote of Steve Jobs. The Apple CEO delivered in spades, serving up the next-generation iPhone to a packed house and Jobs even joked confidently when an iPhone 4 demo failed due to half the audience hogging the available WiFi bandwidth during his presentation.


Best New Product

Again, it's just really tough to compete with Apple's curtain-raising on the iPhone 4 and iOS 4 operating system for the next-generation of touch-enabled devices from the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker. Microsoft did release a host of updates and improvements to its Windows Azure cloud computing platform, but finishes a distant second to Apple in this category.


Best New Program

Microsoft did tweak its Windows Phone Marketplace policies at TechEd 2010, but Apple laid a doozey on iOS developers with a significant overhaul of its advertising framework for apps built for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It should be noted that some partners -- particularly Google's new AdMob unit -- were not pleased at all about Apple's new iAd guidelines, which some say are skewed wildly against competitive advertising models.


Best Developer Sessions

Microsoft served up strong sessions for developers at TechEd 2010, according to sources in attendance, particularly in the cloud computing arena -- education on SQL Azure, Microsoft's cloud-based relational database, being one example. Apple, on the other hand, was all about the App Store and bringing developers up to speed on iOS 4 -- leaving some Mac OS developers wondering why OS X, the platform they work with, seemed to be getting short shrift from Cupertino.

WINNER: Microsoft

Best Energy

Microsoft developers have more products to work with and are definitely making more money, in addition to having greater numbers than the Apple developer ecosystem. Nor should the Microsoft fanboy energy be underestimated -- it sounds like the humming of a cash register. Still, the buzz ahead of Jobs' keynote, pictured, was palpable. And spend a few days with App Store success stories and you'll see a zeal that's hard for any tech company's developer community to match. We're calling this one a draw.


Best Entertainment

Apple didn't put a whole lot of skin in the evening entertainment game at WWDC 2010, allowing assorted partner firms to pick up the slack with various cocktail gatherings scattered around San Francisco's SoMa district. Microsoft, by contrast, treated developers to a rollicking Mardi Gras-themed final night party. What’s more, costumed versions of Microsoft products roaming the show floor is always fun and if nothing else, it was entertaining to hear snippets of geek-speak while walking through the French Quarter for a change.

WINNER: Microsoft

And The Winner Is ...

Tallying up the votes, it looks like Microsoft's TechEd 2010 squeaks by Apple's WWDC 2010 with a score of 4-3, including one category tie. That's pretty impressive given Apple's opening act fusillade of Steve Jobs, the iPhone 4, iOS 4 and iAds. But a good developer conference is more than just Day One and Microsoft pulled out all the stops to deliver an educational and entertaining experience to its developer ecosystem. Developers, developers, developers indeed, Mr. Ballmer.

OVERALL WINNER: Microsoft TechEd 2010