I just happened on this article from Extreme Tech, and thought you might be interested ... ************************************************** * SUN-APPLE DEAL FURTHERS MICROSOFT-APPLE RIFT A report in C/NET-ZDNet (they're the same now, right?) this weekend either explains the reason for the very public Microsoft-Apple rift that came to light 2 weeks ago or provides all the ammunition Microsoft needs to finally bail out of its failing relationship with the Macintosh maker. According to the report, Apple is working with Sun Microsystems to port the OpenOffice and StarOffice office- productivity suites to Mac OS X, providing Mac users with free or low-cost alternatives to the pricey Microsoft Office v. X for Mac, which retails for $500. Let that sink in for a moment--because the potential repercussions are huge. In August 1997, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that the then-failing company was receiving a lifesaving shot in the arm from its one-time rival, Microsoft, which invested $150 million in Apple as well as forking over an undisclosed sum--said to be in excess of $1 billion--to settle previous patent disputes. But more important, Microsoft agreed to a 5-year software development deal, during which time it would continue to release new Office versions for the Mac, a crucial sign for consumers that the platform was still viable. In return, Apple agreed to replace Netscape with Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) as the default Web browser on new Mac systems. Flash forward 5 years, and things have changed a bit. This spring, many Mac users called on the companies to renew their vows because the 5-year deal was coming to a close. At the time, Microsoft claimed that no new deal was required and that the company would continue making Mac software as long as the business made sense. However, only a few short months later, Kevin Browne, General Manager of Microsoft's Mac Business Unit (MacBU), dropped a bombshell just days before the MacWorld 2002 trade show: Browne said that Microsoft would stop selling Macintosh software if sales didn't pick up. Office v. X, the most recent Office for Mac product, had sold far less than expected and far less than earlier versions, he said. Browne also complained that Apple didn't do enough to convert its existing users to Mac OS X, a claim Apple denied. Furthermore, Apple complained that Office v. X was prohibitively expensive for most Mac users. The companies' public spat over Mac OS X adoption and Office v. X sales suddenly highlighted the fact that their relationship had silently soured over the years. The July 2002 MacWorld event was the first since August 1997 that didn't include a Microsoft demonstration of some sort--a telling omission. Instead, Jobs touted several initiatives aimed at converting Windows users to the Mac. Clearly, Apple's attitude toward Microsoft has changed. And now Apple and Sun have plans for OpenOffice--which is an open-source project--and StarOffice, Sun's commercial version of OpenOffice that features various proprietary extensions and add-ons. "Historically, Apple was a little bit worried about working with [Sun] because of their relationship with Microsoft," says Tony Siress, Sun's senior director of desktop marketing solutions. "[Now] Microsoft is mad, and Apple's coming at them hardcore." No friend of Microsoft, Sun wants to see Apple bundle Sun's StarOffice product for free with all new Macs, a move that would further hinder Office v. X sales. "I don't want to sell StarOffice for OS X," Siress told C/NET. "I want Apple to bundle it. I'll give them the code. I'd love it if I could get the team at Apple to do joint development and they distribute it at no cost--that it's their product. Nobody makes a product more beautiful on [the Mac] than Apple." To facilitate this goal, Sun has given Apple the StarOffice source code, he said. Of course, even if Apple does include StarOffice with Mac OS X, perhaps branded as an Apple product, that still leaves IE. Mac fans--many of whom still harbor resentment about Microsoft's less-than-stellar Mac products of the mid-1990s--have often bristled that they are essentially forced to use IE on Mac OS X. This sentiment arises because the browser alternatives, including OmniWeb, iCab, and the recently released Mozilla browser, are immature or performance-challenged on Mac OS X. A more recent entry, however, holds promise. Dubbed Chimera, this open-source browser uses Mozilla's excellent rendering engine and a native Mac OS X shell to provide a simple, fast, and attractive experience. And most intriguingly, Apple just hired one of Chimera's primary developers, though he can't discuss what he's working on because of Apple's strict disclosure policies. Is he working on a new Apple-branded Web browser? Yes, I think so. And that product, combined with free office productivity suite alternatives, will likely signal the end of the Apple-Microsoft relationship once and for all. ************************************************** That's some pretty interesting stuff, to me. I was a long-time IE user, but switched to Netscape 6.2 recently. After using Netscape for a while now, my personal opinion is that it's no better or worse than IE, just different. They both have their strengths, weaknesses, and bugs. My past experience has been that running both of them on my Mac results in a total clusterfuck. I also have iCab on my Mac, which I like for power surfing, but it lacks in features and user-friendliness. I've also tried several other browsers, including the new Mozilla public release, Opera, and an old Apple browser called Cyber Dog. Mozilla just seems like a Netscape clone to me ... I don't understand why it exists, except to get programmers to spend their time (unpaid) to try to work the bugs out of Netscape. I didn't spend much time using Opera when I had it on my Mac. It doesn't have the features or user-friendliness of the "big two" browsers, and doesn't have the speed of iCab, so it was never my browser of choice when I had it installed, so I just got rid of it. I also hated the huge OPERA banner that occupied half of the toolbar. Cyber Dog was interesting to me. I played with it quite some time ago, when RO was still just a twinkle in Chris's eye ... lol. It had been long-since discontinued and abandoned, but you could still find the files on the internet. Due to it's modular nature, and my lack of knowledge and experience, I never really got it running well. A couple of months ago I wanted to try it again, just for fun. But after a little searching, I was unable to easily find the files again. Perhaps with a little harder searching it can still be had, and I may yet try to do it. I imagine it's a POS compared with today's browsers, but it might be fun to play with. Anyway ... I'll quit rambling and get to the point ... I really hope that Apple comes up with a superior Mac browser. Let's face it, MS IE runs great on MS Windows. It should. They're made by the same company. Apple is far-overdue in creating the ultimate Apple browser. And if they're smart, they'll make it backward-compatible for OS 8 & 9, given that so many people see no need to "fix what aint broke" (upgrade to OSX). But, given Apple's track record, I'm pretty sure that if they create a new "super-browser", it will probably be included as part of a new "super-OS" (OS11?) which no Mac user will want to be without, and they will charge full price for it (a la OSX/Omniweb). It's a shame that MS and Apple can't see the forest through the trees when it comes to supporting their legacy products. There are a LOT of PC users that still use W98SE (including me), due to online compatibility issues and driver issues. There are a lot of Mac users (including me) who are thoroughly satisfied with OS9 and don't WANT to "upgrade" to OSX, for the same reasons (and others). It would be wise of MS and Apple to take a look at this scenario and find ways to enhance the computing experience for us. I was thinking of buying OSX.2 when it is released (in a few weeks), but I still can't justify doing it. But I'd gladly pay $50 for a killer new Apple browser to use with OS9, and I'm sure that a lot of other people would, too.