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Microsoft And Apple?

Those of you who read about the Apple/IBM alliance in detail no doubt remember that then-CEO John Sculley proposed that IBM buy Apple outright at one point. I’m sure such a move would have gone over badly in Cupertino, but the rumors I heard toward the end of last week put the IBM purchase to shame. Aldus merging with Adobe has nothing on this deal, and Novell’s purchase of WordPerfect and Quattro Pro pales in comparison.

It’s quite simple. Can you say "Microsoft?" What better way for Mr. Bill to prove that Microsoft is 100 percent behind the Macintosh?

Yes, that’s right. Microsoft is seriously considering purchasing Apple, and although Apple is doing well enough financially, of all the companies in the industry, Microsoft alone has the resources to carry off the takeover. With cash reserves of several billion dollars and a strong stock position, Microsoft may have come up with an attractive enough offer to sway Apple’s Board of Directors.

Let me explain why such a deal makes a good deal of sense for Microsoft. As we all know, Microsoft is interested only in the bottom line, and what better way to ensure profits than to control not only the most popular applications that run on a platform, but also the hardware itself? Windows has made a great deal of money for Microsoft because Microsoft controls the game, so to speak. But Microsoft has seldom ventured into the cutthroat PC hardware market, and never at the CPU level. By acquiring Apple, Microsoft suddenly controls not only an operating environment, but a hardware platform that commands 15 percent of the market and that has the recently released Power Macs as a seductive new technology for businesses.

Other benefits abound. Microsoft would pick up Claris in the process, which means that Microsoft Works can fade into the fossil record in favor of the snazzier ClarisWorks. Claris also has a number of programs like Claris Impact and the cross-platform FileMaker Pro that have no competition in the existing Microsoft lineup. As Lotus and Novell enter the software suite game, Microsoft stands poised to change the rules by creating multi-level, cross-platform software suites, all connected via OLE 2.0 for true mix-and match compatibility. Should the deal go through, I’m sure the FTC will have a long look to ensure that Microsoft doesn’t take advantage of its position as the maker of both Windows and the Macintosh environments.

And remember, with Microsoft’s emphasis on cross-platform tools, how much farther down the road can a core-code version of Chicago (the successor to Windows 3.1) be? With all of that research put into core-code development for Word and Excel, why not use that cross-platform technology at the operating system level? Such an operating system could leave behind the worst of the Windows limitations held over from a senile DOS, and improve in many of the areas where the Macintosh has always led, without fear of a lawsuit. And everyone wondered why Microsoft was happy to license the Windows source code to Insignia for SoftWindows – there won’t be any competition from SoftWindows on the Macintosh once Chicago for Macintosh appears with the capability to run all Windows programs at native speeds on the Power Macs.

What’s in this for Apple? Well, money, of course, but there’s something more – power, and the insanity that set Steve Jobs apart from the rest of the computer industry, an insanity that lives on at Apple. As hard as they try, and as cool as the Power Macs are, Apple’s executives have realized that they will never gain more than perhaps a 20 percent share of the personal computer market. That hurts, and although some Macintosh fanatics will liken the sale of the company to selling one’s soul to Lucifer, Apple sees it as its best chance to change the world, to mold the world as only Apple could do. An Apple/Microsoft juggernaut, combining Apple’s creativity and desire to make a difference with Microsoft’s marketing might and attention to the smallest of percentages would result in a company that could easily dominate the entire computer industry. I suspect that appeals to Michael Spindler.

Finally, perhaps the best part about this entire deal, should it ever go through and slide by the anti-trust laws, is that it’s complete and utter balderdash. Allow me to wish you all a belated April Fools Day.

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