As he intrepidly continues his experiment as a full-time Mac user for a month, ZDNet Anchordesk executive editor David Coursey has begun to wonder about the future of Microsoft and Apple. His comments come in a new editorial entitled
Will Microsoft pull the plug on Apple? Don’t think from the title that Coursey’s analysis is a slam on Apple, though — perhaps the editor’s recent experiences as a Mac user have softened him a bit, but Coursey speaks to some common fears voiced by many Mac users.
Coursey submits for readers’ consideration that this summer will mark the five year anniversary of a legal settlement between Apple and Microsoft that caused Microsoft to fork over a US$150 million investment in Apple. Microsoft also committed to provide Mac-compatible versions of Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and other products. That commitment expires this year, which has caused Coursey to wonder if Microsoft may indeed cease supporting the Mac platform.
Coursey confessed right off the bat that he doesn’t think that Microsoft — the biggest provider of general application software to the Mac market — will walk away from the platform any time soon. But as the defendant in a seemingly endless line of anti-trust litigation, Microsoft ought to do a better job supporting the platform. Coursey outlines where he thinks Microsoft should try to improve:
Improved support of core Microsoft technologies like .Net, Windows Media Player, and PocketPC. There’s no way to sync a PocketPC device with the Mac, said Coursey, and no apparent plans to support the Mac with .Net, either. And, he added, Windows Media player may be available for Mac OS and Mac OS X, but it’s a far cry from what you get with Windows XP. (We at MacCentral would add to that list Mac support for select DirectX technologies — technologies depended upon by many PC game developers that make game development easier.)
Microsoft should also consider as a priority compatibility between Microsoft Office apps and Palm OS-based PDAs, said Coursey, as well as a push to gain acceptance for FrontPage extension support from Mac Web authoring application developers.
Coursey also suggested that Microsoft’s Mac Messenger client should support the same multimedia capabilities as its Windows counterpart, and thinks that Microsoft’s Exchange e-mail client/server software should be better supported, as well.
“Microsoft should commit to providing all its core functionality and features on a cross-platform basis,” Coursey said, qualifying his bold request by saying that doesn’t mean that every Windows app that Microsoft makes should come to our platform, but the technology should be equally accessible.
Furthermore, Microsoft should back it up by agreeing to it in writing.
“The reason Microsoft should put this on paper is because of legitimate concerns that its interest in Macintosh is more a ploy in its antitrust battles (‘Look, we support multiple platforms!’) than a real interest in serving Mac users. And the sooner Microsoft reaffirms this commitment — and expands it as I’ve outlined above — the better for Mac users, both present and future,” concluded Coursey.