Microsoft set up a unit last year in San Jose, California, to help small software companies write Internet programs for Apple, according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition, Microsoft was able to get programmers from Apple's software subsidiary, Claris, to port the Internet Explorer browser to the Mac earlier this year.
Microsoft officials said it was helping Apple in part because of antitrust concerns, according to the report. If Apple goes out of business, more antitrust challenges would likely crop up. Microsoft is currently dealing with two such actions, levied by Netscape Communications and Caldera.
In an effort to boost Apple's market share in the Internet arena, Microsoft is telling programmers, for the first time, to ignore Microsoft's flagship Windows operating system, and instead write only for the Mac, using Apple software.
The unit, which is costing Microsoft millions of dollars, is expected to have 60 employees, mostly former Mac OS developers.
The unit has already helped launch a trade group called the Macintosh Internet Developers Association and plans to offer Mac software companies a no-strings-attached cash grant of up to $100,000.