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Tom Gibbons, Microsoft VP, is leading Microsoft's charge to support the iPhone, heading a team of engineers who are working to develop third-party apps for the iPhone.  (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft may look to launch an Office suite on iPhone

Microsoft and Apple may be rivals, but that doesn't stop Microsoft from being very excited about developing possible applications for the iPhone, according to recent reports.  

Soon after the release of Apple's third party software developer kit (SDK) for the iPhone, Microsoft set an entire team of engineers to work analyzing it.  Tom Gibbons, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Specialized Devices and Applications Group, states, "It’s really important for us to understand what we can bring to the iPhone.  To the extent that Mac Office customers have functionality that they need in that environment, we’re actually in the process of trying to understand that now."

The move is not an entirely new one either.  Microsoft has long maintained a group of engineers tasked with porting Microsoft software to Apple's operating systems.  Microsoft's Mac Business Unit is based in Mountain View, Calif., cozily close to Apple's headquarters, which is just miles away.  The Mac Business Unit has been extremely successful in marketing the Microsoft Office Suite to Mac users.  Though Microsoft refuses to release figures on the unit, one of its most lucrative, Fortune magazine estimates that it did around $350M USD in business last year, and may have made as much as $200M USD in profit.

Microsoft has taken a strange sense of pride in being the best Apple developer other than Apple.  Microsoft's extensive experience with OS X and its inside knowledge of the Microsoft Exchange protocols the iPhone is adopting for business email means that Microsoft should be primed to deliver some powerful iPhone applications.

Gibbons states, "We do have experience with that environment, and that gives us confidence to be able to do something.  The key question is, what is the value that we need to bring? We’re still getting comfortable with the SDK, right? It’s just come out. So we had a guess as to what feasibility would be like, now we’ll really get our head wrapped around that."

Microsoft's voice recognition unit TellMe, a recent acquisition, is also eyeing the iPhone.  TellMe's primary focus is in developing for the Windows Mobile operating system.  While the situation may be slightly ironic, it is pure business and general manager Mike McCue says that as long as the iPhone SDK supports voice recording and location based technology, TellMe will be all over it.  McCue states, "If the SDK supports these things we’re absolutely going to get a version out there as soon as we can, get TellMe out there on the iPhone."

In June, Apple will release an update which will allow third-party SDK-based software.  Until then Microsoft will be busy coding, coming up with new products for the iPhone.  Business certainly makes strange bedfellows.

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Microsoft is NOT the 2nd best
By jnn4v on 3/26/2008 4:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft has taken a strange sense of pride in being the best Apple developer other than Apple.

I'd take issue with that quote. I've been using Microsoft products on a series of four different macs for about 6 years now and I've found their software to be marginal at best. Office X was an improvement over the previous version, but it has usability issues, crashes, compatibility problems, etc that were many times worse than their Windows contemporaries. Office Mac 2004 and even the current Office Mac 2008, while they do have some unique advantages over their Windows counterparts, really don't match up and never have.

On the other hand, let's look at Adobe for example. Dating back to before OSX was even launched, Adobe's Mac versions always were on-part with their Windows software. Their releases have never seemed buggy, feature-restricted, or crash-prone at the initial release (unlike some MS programs that needed a couple rounds of patching before they worked properly). I would state pretty strongly that Adobe is much closer to Apple than Microsoft is.

RE: Microsoft is NOT the 2nd best
By TomZ on 3/26/2008 4:14:18 PM , Rating: 5
LOL, I had a good laugh at your assertion that Adobe products have not been buggy. That has been the complete opposite of my experience. Not to mention how quirky most of Adobe's apps are.

RE: Microsoft is NOT the 2nd best
By jnn4v on 3/26/2008 4:20:50 PM , Rating: 2
Fair enough. But have they given you the bomb, sad-faced Mac or Apple's multi-lingual BSoD? I've never had Photoshop or Lightroom do that for me. I rarely even see them have a critical error or unrecoverable crash. On the other hand, I've had all of the above problems with Microsoft apps.

By otispunkmeyer on 3/27/2008 9:32:10 AM , Rating: 2
yep Office Mac 2008 = flawless (thus far)

Adobe lightroom = wont even install. apparently there is nothing too install. which is odd. im hoping an upgrade to leopard will sort it.

RE: Microsoft is NOT the 2nd best
By eman7613 on 3/28/2008 1:15:08 AM , Rating: 2
Apple is the reason Adobe got big, adobe came out with their version of WYSIWYG and apple picked it up on the spot, before adobe ever had products on windows or dos they were on apple. part of why their not lagging their feet as much with maintinging code for macs like many other companies do.

RE: Microsoft is NOT the 2nd best
By Nekrik on 3/26/2008 7:23:31 PM , Rating: 2
"On the other hand, let's look at Adobe for example."

Remember all those claims Jobs always made about his PPC based machines being the fastest in the World, and then he'd go and show some Adobe benchmark? That was because Adobe always developed specifically for the PPC processors and then ported to the x86 platform. Back then Photoshop and other adobe apps were very buggy on PCs, not to mention the Mac's transition from PPC to Intel being less than spectacular when their apps were run under Rosetta. Then there's Adobe Reader which I won't elaborate on here, but there's a reason Foxit and a number of other apps have appeared.

RE: Microsoft is NOT the 2nd best
By melgross on 3/27/2008 12:41:23 AM , Rating: 2
That's actually not true. Once Adobe moved to windows as well, it had two development tracks. They were very careful not to implement an Apple technology that wasn't available either in x86 machines (other than Altivec, which handily beat any SSE) or in Windows.

By SanLC504 on 3/26/2008 2:52:07 PM , Rating: 5
Next up, from the creative minds at Apple comes the iPhone 2.0, which will run Mac OS XP SP4. It will include Internet Explorer 8.0 (touch friendly, of course) with a Safari plug-in, Mini Office 2009 (with friendly OOXML support built-in, ooooooooh!) and will come in three colors: Bill-Gates-Is-Still-Rich Green, Duh-Its-Made-By-Apple White, and Oooh-Its-An-Elite-Apple Black.

Plus, the first 1,000 orders get a free bottle of perfume that smells like Steve Jobs' Ass. All of the elitist mac users will want to kiss you after you use that.

RE: Hybrid?
By OrSin on 3/26/08, Rating: 0
RE: Hybrid?
By killerroach on 3/26/2008 4:01:09 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind that, outside of Apple, Microsoft has the largest Mac development unit of any company, believe it or not. If there's a profit to be made in a field, it's the prerogative of a good capitalist firm to make it :)

RE: Hybrid?
By SanLC504 on 3/26/2008 4:28:22 PM , Rating: 2
The most likely reason for that is because Microsoft has the largest software development unit of any company, and because of how widespread and universally accepted Microsoft's formats are, they know people will clamor for a way to utilize those formats (i.e. doc, xls, pps).

Does Mac have its own word processing and worksheet software? Sure it does. But, if you're a student, does your teacher also have that same suite? Doubtful, and so to Microsoft formats we go!

RE: Hybrid?
By Oregonian2 on 3/26/2008 5:04:30 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft has made a lot of money off of Apple over the years, as well as having saved Apple from extinction a couple times. When the Mac first came out it was wonderful but there was absolutely nothing to buy it for. No significant apps whatsoever, that is, until Microsoft provided a suite for it. Something that became a Mac top seller for a long time. iPods and Zunes are about the only thing they compete in. They both make OS's but Apple only as part of their main business of selling computers, something that Microsoft doesn't do (other than perhaps the Xbox's). Windows and OS-X really aren't direct competitors even if one theoretically can run both on a x86 based Mac.

As to Microsoft having the largest software unit, I'm not entirely sure. IBM has a pretty big one. Just doesn't generally run primarily on PC's.

RE: Hybrid?
By P4blo on 3/27/2008 12:35:56 PM , Rating: 2
Mac numbers are so insignificant compared to PC's I doubt most companies would be interested in all the investment needed to tap a 5% market share.

No I see it differently. Sure they make a few bucks but I think Microsoft are in the Mac market to ensure their products (such as office) remain the primary office software choice for mac users as well as PC. Also... if Microsoft becomes a big player in Mac software they're effectively guaranteeing Macs will never become a threat to the PC. Why? because if it runs the same things as PC's, why not just buy a PC and save some do$h!?

I admit to not being much of a Mac luver but I do think all they have over modern PC's is a bit of style and a wopping price tag. Let the braindead by them for their looks and that wonderful single mouse button...

Anyway, for MS it's a win/win scenario.

By 325hhee on 3/26/2008 3:47:31 PM , Rating: 1
It's Apple, it's going to be, YOU NEED SAFARI to better run <insert prog here>, please check yes.

RE: Safari
By bhieb on 3/26/2008 4:34:27 PM , Rating: 4

Wonder if the unistall dialog box for Safari reads...

Please check the unchecked box if you would like to not install Safari click yes or click no to install.

Wither Win Mobile?
By melgross on 3/27/2008 12:47:30 AM , Rating: 3
This is actually amusing. I wonder if Ballmer will allow it?

The iPhone is expected to crush Win Mobile phones as it is. So now MS will be developing software for it that will make Win Mobile even less relevant?

How will this work?

This is like a reprise of Play's For Sure, and the iTunes/iPod battle, except that MS didn't write any games for the iPod.

Cut me a break
By Poloasis on 3/26/08, Rating: -1
RE: Cut me a break
By bhieb on 3/26/2008 4:31:03 PM , Rating: 3
I'm sorry, but this is getting ridiculous, why don't they fix Vista instead.

This has nothing to do with Vista you troll, they are completly different business units. Are you suggesting that someone programming for the iPhone division is in any way qualified to be working on an OS? Crawl back in your hole, and quit trying to stir sh&*t up, moron.

RE: Cut me a break
By stargazr on 3/26/2008 4:51:07 PM , Rating: 2
Coz they want to get as much profit as possible by developing for the iPhone.

RE: Cut me a break
By See Spot Run on 3/26/2008 5:22:24 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry, but this is getting ridiculous, why don't they fix Vista instead.

You know, DailyTech just put up this new article about how stats show that Nvidia's drivers caused the greatest percentage of Vista crashes.

Very little Microsoft can do to fix another companies drivers...

RE: Cut me a break
By Kode on 3/30/2008 10:43:43 PM , Rating: 2
Very little Microsoft can do to fix another companies drivers...

True, but they can change the way the operating system reacts to a crash due to a faulty driver. It's not because a driver makes a mistake that the entire system has to crash.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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