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Microsoft, Apple Reaffirm Office's Future

Posted by iMark - 2006-01-15

Microsoft will continue to develop its Office for Mac software for at least another five years, the company's Macintosh Business Unit has announced.
The popular software will be available for Macs running either PowerPC, its current chip configuration, or the Intel-based Macs recently unveiled at Apple's Macworld conference.

In addition to formalizing the agreement that cements Office for Mac into place for the next handful of years, Microsoft also noted that there will be enhancements to Entourage 2004 for Mac.

Also in the works is a plan to build converters that will read the new Microsoft Office Open XML formats.

Friend Indeed

Microsoft and Apple have been collaborating for the past decade after a period of intense rivalry. The recent agreement underscores Microsoft's ongoing dedication to the Mac platform, noted Tom Gibbons, a Microsoft vice president.

"We've had many years of success with Office for Mac, and this formal commitment confirms that we're in the Mac business for the long haul," he said.

Although cynics might be amused to see that "the long haul" in the technology business seems to mean "five years," Microsoft does have significant reason to stick close to Apple.

Not only is Apple enjoying a period of robust success, but the agreement ensures that, for at least the next few years, Apple will not attempt to release its own productivity suite, a product rumored to be in development.

Slow and Steady

Microsoft's announcement about its Mac Office plans likely will be just one of many, many discussions this year about the company's productivity suite, some analysts believe.

With the forthcoming release of Office 12 for Windows, Microsoft is attempting, in part, to create some favorable buzz in advance of the suite's ship date, noted Gartner analyst Steve Kleynhans.

"Microsoft is in the midst of a very complex, rather massive undertaking that could change the entire market," he said. "Undoubtedly, they have a marketing plan in place for acclimating people to the idea of new systems and software before their major launches."

The company's effort could become especially aggressive as enterprises ponder when to transition to Vista and Office 12. Gartner has predicted that many businesses will find it hard to justify upgrading during 2007 and even 2008, and that enterprises might discover migrations are more complex than they anticipate.

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