Microsoft to continue Mac support

update As a five-year agreement with Apple Computer draws to a close, Microsoft reiterates its support for the Macintosh.

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Microsoft & Mac: How long will it last?
Kevin Browne, general manager, Microsoft's Macintosh business unit
update MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--As a five-year agreement with Apple Computer draws to a close, Microsoft on Wednesday reiterated its support for the Macintosh.

"The agreement has ended, but our business is absolutely continuing," said Kevin Browne, head of Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit. However, Browne did not commit to continuing support for a particular time frame.

"We'll continue this business as long as the business case makes sense," he said, speaking at Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus here.

Browne said Microsoft is focused on developing Office and Internet Explorer for the Mac, but he said the company would consider adding other titles if it does not take up too much of the software maker's resources and if the company can get a decent return for the efforts.

Microsoft is doing long-range planning, but it is only committing to one version of software at a time, Browne said.

As previously reported, Browne said Apple and Microsoft are not currently in talks to extend the five-year technology agreement, which actually ends in August.

Browne said he would be open to such a deal if it made sense, but he downplayed the importance of the deal.

"The technology agreement never has and never will define what it is we do on the Mac," Browne said. For example, he said, even when the agreement with Apple was in place, Microsoft developed software not called for under the deal, because it made sense to Microsoft's business strategy.

Phil Schiller, Apple's vice president of worldwide marketing, who was at the event, said he was pleased with Microsoft's comments and agrees with the company that a new deal is probably not necessary. "It certainly was necessary at the time," he added, referring to the commitment made five years ago.

With that deal coming to an end this summer, there has been some apprehension among Mac fans as to whether Microsoft might drop its Mac support at some point in the future. For many Mac owners, it took the release of the Mac OS X-ready version of Microsoft Office last fall before they would upgrade to the new operating system.