Mac Has a Future with Microsoft

Microsoft unveiled a short-term roadmap for Apple Macintosh products this week at Apple's Macworld conference in San Francisco. New versions of Office for Mac and Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac are slated for delivery in the first half of 2004.

In a statement, Apple senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller declared that Microsoft is committed to the Mac for the long term: "We're pleased that the Microsoft Mac [Business Unit] continues to show its dedication to the Mac platform by delivering great products for Mac users now and for years to come."

In an effort to show its dedication to Mac, always a question for a company found by U.S. courts to have a monopoly on desktop operating systems, Microsoft said that Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac would have new features, not just ported versions of features already introduced for Windows in Office 2003. Microsoft has 160 full-time employees in its Mac BU, which Microsoft says is the largest Mac-focused development team outside Apple.

Some of the brand new features for Office 2004 for Mac include a ruled notebook layout view in Word; an Excel page layout view that provides WSIWYG functionality for printing; and compatibility reports that detail and suggest fixes for file format incompatibilities across platforms.

To sweeten the pot, and avoid freezing the market for existing versions of Office for Mac until the new version ships, Microsoft announced a promotion for Office v. X for Mac. Anyone who licenses a new copy of Office v. X for Mac can get a copy of Office 2004 when it ships for only the cost of shipping and handling.

Microsoft's commitment to ship a new version of Virtual PC for Mac is significant, as well. Microsoft has already shipped a Windows version of Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 since acquiring the technology from Connectix last year. There has been a lot of industry speculation about how committed Microsoft would be to supporting Connectix' product for Mac.

Microsoft Virtual PC for Mac Version 7 will provide access to Windows-only software, networks and devices from a Mac. An early version supporting only Windows XP as a guest operating system of the Mac will ship as part of Office 2004 for Mac Professional Edition. A stand-alone version of that limited product will ship later in the first half of 2004. Microsoft committed to shipping a version of Virtual PC for Mac 7 a few months later with support for other guest operating systems.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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