Apple Takes Shots at Microsoft With iPad Air, Software

Execs say what they really think of rivals

Apple lobbed a barrage of Air to surface missiles in Microsoft’s direction today.

Apple executives—led by CEO Tim Cook—at today’s keynote event to unveil the iPad Air took every opportunity to insult the old-time rival.

Apple was likely still bruised from Microsoft’s recent advertising onslaught that makes fun of Siri, the iPhone and iPad’s voice-activated assistant.

Microsoft has tried to capture any sliver of the tablet market it can with the Surface tablet, which Apple clearly had in mind today showing off its one-pound iPad Air for the first time.

"Our competition is different. They’re confused,” Cook said at the product launch in Cupertino, Calif. “They chased after netbooks. Now they’re trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs. Who knows what they’ll do next?”

Who could he be talking about? Microsoft’s Surface is considered just such a hybrid device—a laptop and a tablet.

The Surface hasn’t sold well since launching last year, and Microsoft lost almost $1 billion on developing and marketing the flop. Still, the company is trying, and unveiled a Surface 2 just ahead of Apple’s iPad event.

Apple also threatened Microsoft on the software side, with a new Mavericks operating system and suite of apps that will be free.

The move leaves Microsoft as the only company left that charges for an operating system; the free software model has been a constant threat to its core Windows and Office business.

Apple executive Eddie Cue, after showing off the new iLife and iWork apps, called out rivals that charge. It costs customers “hundreds each year just to get your apps,” he said.

Apple showed off the new software alongside new Macbooks, a Mac computer, and the iPad Air and iPad Mini with a higher resolution screen. “Other companies would be incredibly proud to have just one of these products,” Cook said in a final parting shot.