Microsoft Pledges Continued Support For Apple

In 1997, Apple and Microsoft signed an agreement: Apple would make Internet Explorer the default Web browser on all new Macs, and Microsoft would continue their support for Office and other key applications. Additionally, Apple would drop a long-standing patent lawsuit, and Microsoft would buy $150 million in Apple shares. That agreement is set to expire in August, which is an issue thatis been quietly raised around the Web over the last few months. According to a Reuters article, however, the head of Microsoftis Mac Business Unit has stated that they will continue to support Macs beyond that date:

"We have a plan to continue supporting the Mac, and it has nothing to do with whether we have a technology agreement,ii Kevin Browne, general manager of Microsoftis Macintosh business unit, told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

"In order to cement that message with customers we have detailed fairly long-range plans about how we will evolve our products,ii Browne said.

A February ZDNet article addressing these concerns quotes Appleis vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, as agreeing that the needs for the 1997 agreement are "not an issue today."

However, doubts are still in the minds of some analysts as to whether Mr. Browneis position is in line with that of the corporate heads. Yesterdayis Reuters article goes on to quote Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Giga Information Group:

"The commitment is coming from a division and not coming from corporate. Typically, something that you can depend upon needs to come from Gates or Ballmer,ii Enderle said."The lack of that support at this point remains troubling,ii Enderle said.

Enderle adds that Appleis recent opposition to an anti-trust settlement may strain relations between the two companies, although Browne states that this has not had a great deal of impact on their business relationship. The agreement would have had Microsoft donate several million dollarsi worth of software and computers to schools.

You can read the Reuters article in full at Yahoo! News.