If Microsoft dropped its Macintosh support, the company would get a “nasty surprise,” Charles Haddad writes in his latest “Byte of the Apple” column in
Though many Mac users fear that, “without the respectability that Microsoft provides, especially in the corporate world, the Mac platform would collapse,” the columnist is skeptical that this would happen. Though Microsoft Office “offers more features than any other single program for the Mac,” it’s still buggy, often complicated to use, and expensive, Haddad says.
There are less expensive and less complicated alternatives, he notes. For Mac word processors, he recommends Mariner Writer and Nisus Writer (with OmniOutliner for outlining capabilities). in lieu of Microsoft’s Excel, he suggests Mariner’s Calc and AppleWorks. Web browsers? Haddad says to give OmniWeb, iCab, Opera, and Netscape a shot. However, the columnist says that he’s “speaking heresy.”
“If Mac users really began to abandon Microsoft, I would expect the company to strike back, maybe by limiting the compatibility between the operating systems,” he explains. “Such retaliation would represent the biggest threat to the Mac platform. Right now, Windows runs 90 percent of the world’s PCs. To its credit, Microsoft has worked hard in recent years to ensure documents created in Office, whether spreadsheets, letters, or presentations, are interchangeable between PCs and Macs. But that could change if Microsoft started monkeying with the Mac’s compatibility with Windows.”
On the other hand, if Microsoft tried to play compatibility games, Mac programmers would strike back by creating their own workarounds, Haddad says. And he thinks they’d probably have little trouble outwitting their Microsoft counterparts.
“Just look at all the hackers who continue to pirate Microsoft software with ease, even as the company tries to increase its security measures,” Haddad concludes. “I’m not saying the Mac community should turn on Microsoft. Redmond has been, and can continue to be, a valuable ally. But we shouldn’t take any lip from the company, either. It’s software is good — but no better than plenty of other smaller developers out there.”