As Apple Computer introduced its own productivity software Tuesday, Microsoft reiterated its commitment to the Mac market and said sales of its Mac Office package are growing.
Microsoft said it sold more copies of Office 2004 for the Mac in the first three months after its release than the company sold in the first six months of the prior version.
The news comes as Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced iWork, a package combining an updated version of Apple's Keynote presentation software, along with Pages, a new word processing program.
"We have no plans to stop developing Office for Mac," Scott Erickson, group product manager for Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit, said in an interview ahead of the iWork introduction.
He said development of the next version of Office for the Mac is well under way and that Microsoft is on track with its schedule, which calls for a new version every 18 to 24 months. Office 2004 debuted in April of last year.
In addition, Microsoft said it is readying a new version of MSN Messenger for the Mac. Set to debut in the second half of this year, MSN Messenger 5 will be able to connect to corporate servers running Live Communications Server, and users will be able to log in to both corporate and personal messaging accounts.
Microsoft also said it will offer some free enhancements to Office in the second half of this year, with many of the changes aimed at making Office 2004 more compatible with Exchange servers and with Outlook.
"In the six months since we launched Office 2004, our customers told us they needed deeper Exchange support," Roz Ho, Macintosh Business Unit general manager, said in a statement. "We heard them, and it's coming."
In particular, the Entourage e-mail program can now import personal storage files from Outlook via a downloadable software add-on, and in the second half of the year it will also be able to better connect to global address books from an Exchange server and help users better manage maxed-out Exchange e-mail accounts.
Microsoft said it is working with Apple to make sure Office 2004 is ready for Tiger, in particular that the built-in Spotlight search tool will be able to search and index Office files. Apple praised Microsoft's moves in a statement.
Microsoft "continues to show its dedication to the Mac platform by enhancing its products for Mac users," said Ron Okamoto, vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations at Apple.