announced earlier this week
that it was reaffirming its commitment to develop Macintosh software after speculation circulated that the company might drop Mac support for its productivity applications following the expiration of a half-decade old technology agreement between the two companies that expires this summer. Although there’s been lots of news coverage about Microsoft’s Mac plans in recent days, you may be interested in a recent posting to Microsoft’s Mactopia Web site that helps explain Microsoft’s strategy
in the words
of the head of its Macintosh development efforts.
Kevin Browne is general manager of Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit (MacBU), and he’s inarguably the highest-profile member of Microsoft’s management team associated with Macintosh software development. Recently Browne spoke to an audience at the Silicon Valley Speaker Series. In his speech, Browne reassured the public that Microsoft is continuing its Macintosh efforts, discussed where the MacBU’s focus is set going forward, and also touched on Microsoft’s .NET efforts — what that technology does and how the Macintosh will be involved. A transcript of that speech has been posted to Microsoft’s Web site.
The MacBU was formed before the 1997 agreement was put into place, according to Browne, who reminded audience members that Microsoft was a Mac application developer from the start — creating Excel originally as a Mac app back in 1985, debuting Word on the Mac in 1986, and starting PowerPoint and Office’s life both as Mac software in 1989.
Browne’s comments also specify more in-depth the rationale that Microsoft uses to keep Access — its own Windows-specific database application — available only for that platform. In addition to the engineering resources that a Mac conversion of Access would require, Browne noted that Microsoft feels its customers are well-served by FileMaker Pro, and ultimate the decision not to port Access as a Mac application comes down to dollars and cents.
“…we just don’t see a great ROI promise there,” said Browne. “So, please don’t try and define the business by anything other than what good business terms are. Don’t kind of set out there these things that you need to see in order to think that we’re committed.”
Microsoft’s .NET efforts are, by Browne’s own admission, very complex to summarize and get across easily. But ultimately, what he said it boils down to for Mac users and system managers is the issue of integration — a hot topic, especially among the IT-minded.
“We really want the Mac to be a first client in our organization. And they want help from Microsoft and from Apple to get there. This is a place where we feel like we can make a difference with .NET,” said Browne. “… Microsoft.NET is a platform for something we call XML web services, which are intended to address these problems of integration.”
Browne then explained that Microsoft’s MacBU will “create connections” between Office, Internet Explorer and the other software they produce to the back-end services that Microsoft .NET provides. Browne also made it clear that .NET will not compete with Apple’s own development initiatives. “… we don’t plan to actually show up at WWDC and say, here’s how you build .NET client software on the Mac. Again, that’s kind of the approach that we think is the right thing to take, definitely sensitive to Apple’s views as a platform vendor, definitely doable on our part,” he said.
There’s a lot more to the transcript, include a question and answer session after Browne’s speech.
Check it out
for more details.