Microsoft has unveiled plans to port some of its games titles to the Apple Mac platform in an attempt to boost its gaming business.
The software giant told delegates at the Macworld trade show this week that it will set up a games publishing alliance with a US startup to bring select Microsoft games to Mac users.
The as yet unnamed startup will help port and distribute specific titles to the Mac OS 8, OS 9 and OS X platforms. Availability is expected sometime next year.
The real-time strategy game Age of Empires, II: The Age of Kinds, and new versions of Links LS and Flight Simulator will be among the first titles to appear on Macs. The much anticipated action game Halo, which is currently being developed, is also slated to run on the Mac as well on PCs and Microsoft's forthcoming X-Box games console.
"This alliance will enable Microsoft to reach Mac users through the new company," said a Microsoft spokeswoman, adding that the arrangement with the startup is non-exclusive.
Microsoft has been busy expanding its games business. Most recently it announced plans to acquire two companies: NetGames US, which produces scoring and matchmaking services for retail and online games, and Bungie Software Products, a developer of action-oriented computer and video games. The Redmond giant gained exclusive publishing and distribution rights to select Bungie-developed titles, which includes Halo.
The gaming market is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. Shipment of internet appliances, including TV set-top boxes, handheld computers and gaming consoles, are expected to increase from 11 million units in 1999 to 89 million units in 2004, according to researcher IDC.
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