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Readers split on MS-Apple deal

When asked if this week's startling Microsoft deal was the booster shot Apple Computer needed, NEWS.COM readers were of two minds.

    When asked if this Macworld
saga week's startling Microsoft (MSFT) deal was the booster shot Apple (AAPL) needed, NEWS.COM readers were of two minds.

    Of the 1,209 readers who responded, slightly more than half--51 percent--felt that the deal was a good one for Apple.

    The other 49 percent were skeptical about Microsoft and its motives in offering the cash.

    Despite the lack of consensus, Poll results one thing is abundantly clear: NEWS.COM readers are a cynical bunch. Many of the naysayers were die-hard Mac supporters who argued that Apple didn't need to be "saved" in the first place. Other Macheads felt that the deal is the beginning of the end for Apple.

    Apple announced at Macworld Expo in Boston this week a $150 million investment from Microsoft, an agreement to share patented technology, and default status on Mac machines for Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.

    "The funeral is not scheduled, but Apple is dead. You cannot deal with the tiger and live. Others have tried it, and lost. Like them, for Apple it is only a matter of time now," reader Jerry Rowe predicted.

    Others pointed out that the $150 million investment means little to Microsoft; as Christopher Pott put it, "it's like a rounding error caused by a Pentium math bug. "

    A vocal contingent felt that this was an obvious attempt by Microsoft to keep the antitrust watchdogs at the Justice Department at bay.

    "For what may well be chump change, Microsoft gets to settle out of court a serious issue," Ryugen C. Fisher writes in.

    Even the "yes" respondents weren't quite ready to hop into bed with Microsoft. More than one reader qualified a "yes" with a proverbial "but."

    Those who feel that the deal brings credibility to the Mac OS still had reservations about making a pact with the "devil," as more than one reader referred to Bill Gates.

    Some mischievous NEWS.COM readers, such as Colin Sanford, liked the deal merely because of the predicament it puts Oracle chairman Larry Ellison in:

    "How P.O.'d is Larry Ellison right now?" Sanford asks. "He must have, deep down in his heart, hoped that he was going to be seen as the knight in shining armor. But no, Microsoft has once again stolen the thunder."

    NEWS.COM readers rallied to the question: "Has Microsoft saved Apple?" Here's a few excerpts from reader responses that said "yes." Check out the next page to see responses from readers who disagreed.

    Microsoft deal adds credibility
    "Among the options available, this is a pretty good shot. Why? Because it adds credibility to the Mac platform."
    -- Joe Helmer

    "I think that Microsoft's move is a clear message to every other company in software development: current and future Apple platforms are viable and worth the effort; and to brand new corporate buyers: Apple hardware will run the software you want and more."
    -- Diego B. Vega

    "They still innovate, they still make great products, and they've got 27 million rabid users around the world. Their PR department just stinks--and I mean rotten. MS's investment just lends a helping hand to their reputation."
    -- Jon Rust

    Deal puts Wall Street at ease
    "Since the overwhelmingly negative and inaccurate media coverage has done major damage to Apple's public perception as a viable enterprise, this largely symbolic gesture by Microsoft and the resulting knee-jerk Wall Street reaction has reversed this unjustifiable drubbing of a great company."
    -- Ron Bischof

    "This is a shrewd move on Jobs's part. He has, in one step, taken away a great deal of criticism from the financial community, which will in turn, give Apple the breathing room to seed the market with new products now shipping."
    -- Robert C Flisik

    Devil's in the details
    "In my opinion, it was a very necessary step--but surely enough, Apple will pay for it at a later date much more dearly than they can imagine. By then, will the only operating system we have to choose from be Windows NT 10.0?"
    -- Duane

    "In my opinion, I must say that YES, the deal with Microsoft has given Apple a much needed boost; in the eyes of the Mac loyalists, this is close to an ultimate sin. Only their God, Steve Jobs, could have pulled such a maneuver. However, business is business. Microsoft rules. Apple innovates. It will be an interesting union with much potential. Let's wait and see if Apple hasn't given away too much in this deal..."
    -- John P.M. Higgins

    We love Steve Jobs
    "Steve Jobs--the man who can walk out on a stage, command attention, and make Microsoft's advertising campaigns look like a joke, may in fact have a vision of the future that includes Microsoft in the way that a bully is included in a childish game at recess. When one of the other children is ready to challenge the bully, he will go away. Until then, diplomacy is used."
    -- Stephen W. Cote

    "After a series of historically bad business and strategic decisions at Apple, I'm excited to see any action in a new direction."
    -- Andrew Russell

    The best decision for Apple
    "Together they may both succeed, where alone Apple would almost certainly fail."
    -- Rakesh Malik

    "If the $150 million is used to integrate Windows 95 with the Mac 0S so that Mac and Windows computers become cross-platform functional and useable, then I can see Apple Inc. surviving and even thriving."
    -- Tim Fung

    Readers look to Star Trek for answers
    "Jobs is taking his playbook straight from the Star Trek: The Next Generation. His plan: Like Picard as Locutus of Borg, he burrows himself deep into the collective. Then he quietly programs the Collective into a deep sleep. Zap! Then he goes in for the kill!"
    -- Tony Cecala

    "Apple? .. like the Borg say.. "Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated..."
    -- Ryugen C. Fisher

    "Microsoft, like the infamous Borg in Star Trek, will eventually assimilate Apple."
    -- Mike Funk

    NEWS.COM readers rallied to the question: "Has Microsoft saved Apple?" Here are a few excerpts from readers who said "no."

    "Negative"

    Too little, too late
    "It won't help unless...Mac has to change their operating structure to suit the needs of the programming environment. Who in their right mind would want to develop in it?"
    -- Calista Lambsworth

    "Apple is suffering from the same disease IBM contracted, a swelled head and super ego, "No one can topple us!" syndrome. Remember, there are still some people using the Commodore 64 computer."
    -- Dennis Dowhy

    "This is perhaps at best a leg up for Apple. At worst, cynics might say Microsoft has a bargain--the mind share of Apple (and its avid aficionados) for a paltry few dollars."
    -- David Lynn

    Investment helps Microsoft, not Apple
    "$150 million wouldn't be much money for Bill Gates to personally invest, so I'm sure it's not that big a deal for Microsoft?They might only want to keep Apple out of Ellison's hands."
    -- Andy Glover

    "It's Mr. Bill's way to own an Apple. If you can't beat them--buy them!"
    -- Ed W Hutchins

    "This is not a vote of confidence from Microsoft. It's to save their butts from gaining the last 5 percent of the desktop and unquestionably being a monopoly."
    -- Alfred Sanchez

    "Microsoft will have no problem making their software for Macs, it just means Apple users will adjust to using Microsoft's software, and moving them to Intel will be easier later down the line."
    -- Bryan Murphy

    Conspiracy theories
    "I think this investment is an opportunity for Gates to get Larry Ellison (Oracle) out off the race."
    -- Renco Hatenboer

    "Microsoft did this to undermine Oracle and Sun and had no other real motivation."
    -- Jamie Wilson

    "What a patronising (sic) question. If YES - you contend that Apple HAD TO be saved. If NO - you contend that Apple is beyond saving ?? Well, your question is Has Microsoft saved Apple ? And my answer is NO - Microsoft has not saved Apple. Apple saved itself. Get a life."
    -- Colin Rose

    "Microsoft is like a fungus, it never stops encroaching."
    -- Al Lambinus

    Readers' solutions


    "What Apple needs is Steve Jobs or someone else with our love and loyalty (Luke Skywalker maybe?) to keep the reins and make Apple unique and innovative again. Take risks. Better to go down in a blaze of glory while reaching for the golden ring than the long slow death watch of the last three years..."
    -- Brenda Cooper

    "Personally, I think that Apple's not going to be saved by anything short of divine intervention."
    -- Skylar Primm