Detente between the worlds of the Macintosh and Windows was one of the running themes of Mac World this year, with Microsoft and Apple executives going out of their way to highlight what they positioned as a strong relationship.
Microsoft demonstrated its commitment to Apple as a platform by confirming the formation of a 100-strong product unit to develop Mac productivity applications, including the planned autumn release of Office 97 for Mac. Macintosh products account for around two per cent of Microsoft?s total revenues, which has led to some cynics speculating that Microsoft's action is designed as ammunition against possible antitrust accusations.
The company said the new unit, which will be run by Microsoft general manager Ben Waldman, is the largest dedicated Mac development team outside Apple itself. The unit will co-ordinate shared Windows and Mac code for certain applications functions, but will handle the rewriting of certain Windows algorithms.
Office 97 for the Mac will be released in the autumn, slightly later than planned, to allow time for the new unit to conduct a consultation process with Macintosh customers about the features in it. Mac releases of the Microsoft Scheduler+ calendar software and its Exchange Client email product will appear this quarter. On the exhibition show floor, the Microsoft booth was running demonstrations of a Mac version of the Front Page Web management tool, which will ship in the next three months.
Elsewhere, Microsoft continued to queer Internet rival Netscape?s pitch by winning an agreement from Apple to bundle Internet Explorer 3.0 with the Mac OS. Netscape already has a similar deal with Apple which will remain in place.
Microsoft plans to bundle IE 3.0 initially on Macs aimed at the small business customer, but by the end of the year it expects the browser software to available on all Mac products.
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