We have taken note of recent reports from both the popular press and the Mac web suggesting that tensions are on the rise between Apple and Microsoft. The Wall Street Journal raised eyebrows when it published an article featuring Microsoftis Mac Business Unit head Kevin Browne accusing Apple of poor marketing of OS X. Mr. Browneis comments included an apparent threat to drop Office support for the Mac. The rhetoric escalated this week when Apple CEO Steve Jobs used his keynote address here at MWNY to take a few jabs at Microsoft. Mr. Jobs demeaned Windows as "light years" behind OS X and suggested offhandedly that MS is wrongly opposed to industry standards like MPEG-4.
We decided to speak with MWNY attendees in order to gauge the grassroots opinion of Microsoft among Mac users. We found that the people we spoke to generally liked Microsoftis products, but often did not want to support the company.
Tony Mattern, who works in the Cecil County School District is used to PCs but wanted to know more about Office for the Mac. He was pleased with what he saw, and was positive about the Mac (to which he was recently introduced). Steve Stranger is impressed with Internet Explorer and said that Office v. X "blows me away," and while he thinks it is "equal [to] or exceeds" the Windows version, he was at the Microsoft booth hoping for news on Exchange Server support in Entourage. Melvin Osterman, a MACWORLD regular, noted merely that Microsoft had invested in a "more substantial booth in the past," but was visiting just to see what was new.
Outside of the booth though, it is hard to stumble on people that have visited or plan to visit Microsoft at the show. Daniel Hoffer has no plans to visit the company because he already has Office and has no questions to ask. The same is true of Mike Kaufman, who tries "to keep away" from Microsoft products.
The Microsoft booth is not empty, however, according to Kevin Ota, the PR Manager for Kensington, whose booth faces Microsoftis, and Squad Security officer Carlos Figueroa said the booth has been "swamped."
As for the official line from each company, Mary Starman, the Lead Product Manager for Online Mac Products says that the relationship is "really, really good" and despite "little tiffs that end up in public," there is cooperation between the companies at all levels including developers, managers, PR people, and executives. As usual, Apple was not available to comment before press time.