March 6, 2007 12:42 PM PST

Microsoft's rocky road to Mac Office 97

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Microsoft backs the Mac

January 7, 1997
In 1997, Apple wasn't the only place to house Mac evangelists--try Microsoft.

Ben Waldman, a then-Microsoft executive who founded the company's Macintosh Business Unit, fought a hard battle to keep Mac Office 97 a viable project, according to court documents in the recently settled Iowa class action antitrust suit against Microsoft.

In an e-mail to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Waldman makes a passionate case for finishing Mac Office 97 and ramping up marketing and sales support for Microsoft's Mac products, according to a copy of the e-mail submitted in the antitrust case.

Waldman's pleas came just six months after Microsoft touted its plans to launch a business unit devoted to Mac, as well as release new versions of its FrontPage and Office software for the Mac.

His e-mail called for finishing Mac Office 97, despite difficulties and frustrations between the software giant and Apple in negotiations over a broader issue that included a patent cross-license agreement.

Negotiations had been difficult under Apple's former chief executive, Gil Amelio, but a breakthrough in talks emerged upon Steve Jobs' return as Apple CEO in July of that year.

Approximately six weeks after Waldman sent his e-mail, Microsoft announced a $150 million investment in Apple that called for developing and shipping future versions of Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and development tools for the Macintosh.

Prior to that investment, however, Mac Office 97 was in a tenuous position.

"The threat to cancel Mac Office 97 is certainly the strongest bargaining point we have, as doing so will do a great deal of harm to Apple immediately," Waldman noted. "Regardless of the outcome of these discussions, though, I believe we should ship Mac Office 97."

He added: "Furthermore, I believe we need to decide this immediately--our indecision so far has caused quite a bit of harm, and this will become far worse very shortly, as we are not only close to shipping code externally, but need to finally start press and customer communications, especially with Macworld a month away."

In laying out his arguments, Waldman cited the high motivation of his team and the effect on their morale if Microsoft were to pull out, a desire to keep the software giant's integrity intact after promising new versions of Office to users and Wall Street, the proximity to an external beta ship date of August 27, as well as the quality of the product.

"We are creating a good product, perhaps the last one. I really believe that we are creating the right product, a product that we can feel good about, and that will be well-received by customers, press and analysts," Waldman said. "Our focus has been to build on the base of Win Office 97 and create a great Macintosh product for Macintosh users, which is 100 percent interoperable with the Windows product."

He also cited the ability to use Mac Office 97 as a means to test products and marketing concepts before rolling them out in Windows Office.

"Because Mac Office is so much less critical to our business than Windows, we have the flexibility to test out new things in the product and in its marketing before we try them on Windows," Waldman said, adding, "I've personally also found the Mac market interesting because I've seen so many trends appear there first, and eventually become important on Windows."

Concerns over hard disk size, memory utilization and too many unnecessary features, or "bloatware," became a real issue in Office 97--complaints that were similar to ones heard years earlier when Mac Office 4 hit the market, Waldman noted.

"We heard exactly the same thing for Mac Office 4 three years ago, when we weren't really hearing it on Windows," he noted.

Waldman also lamented the lack of marketing and sales support for the company's Mac products. He cited cases where Microsoft sales representatives would try to sell its Mac customers on the notion of switching products, rather than addressing their interest in Microsoft's Mac software.

He also pointed to the effect that marketing had on Microsoft's Mac sales, especially in markets where Apple had seen a decline.

"Despite Apple's 20 percent drop in units in France, Mac Office sales were up 7 percent...How did we do so well? We actually did some marketing!" Waldman said.

Gates, in response to Waldman's e-mail, replied: "I appreciate your mail. It shows the kind of passion about great products that has made Microsoft successful. I admit we have neglected the Mac business."

Microsoft eventually shipped the product as Office 98, as part of a strategy to alternate releases of Office for Mac and Windows. A decision was made to develop specifically for each platform rather than port a subset of Office for Windows to the Mac.

Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the company has been developing native Mac software for more than 22 years and those products include compatibility with Office for Windows.

"We're committed to the ongoing development of our products, and are excited to deliver the first Universal version of Office--Office 2008 for Mac--in the second half of this year," Microsoft said. "Apple recognizes our commitment and contributions to the Mac market, and supports our efforts."

Microsoft noted that at Macworld 2006, the software giant announced a five-year agreement to produce Office specifically for the Mac.

"We are proud of our longstanding history of developing first-class productivity software on the Mac platform and will continue to do so," Microsoft said.

See more CNET content tagged:
Apple Macintosh, antitrust, negotiation, Apple Computer, Microsoft Office

55 comments

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Undisclosed issue?
> despite difficulties and frustrations between the software giant
> and Apple in negotiations over an undisclosed issue

Hmmm, what might that be? Apple agreeing to make Internet
Explorer the default web browser to pound the last nail into
Netscape's coffin?
Posted by KonradK (65 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Actually...
Actually, the "undisclosed issue" is pretty well known. Apple had
gotten the goods on Microsoft, and was just about to file in court
for over ***200*** DOCUMENTED cases of Patent Infringement by
Microsoft in their Windows OS, of Apple patents. This was pretty
clear cut stuff.

Not long after the announcement of Microsoft's "commitment" to
Apple, they quietly dropped the suit... :)
Posted by revry (12 comments )
Link Flag
The **Undisclosed Issue** is Microsoft Theft from Apple
The elephant in the room that all PC coverage isn't willing to talk
about is that Apple had caught Microsoft red handed stealing
dozens of software applications' code from Apple and was going
to sue Microsoft. This had the very real possibility that Microsoft
would be unable to ship Windows and many of it's applications if
an injunction was issued. This would stop Microsoft dead for the
duration of the lawsuits which could be years! There simply was
NO DEFENCE since the code was verbatim. That's why Bill was so
anxious to find a club to fight Apple with. The thief was caught
at the scene with the weapon in his hand smoking and the
victims blood all over him and the murder caught on video at the
police station. A slam dunk!

Why doesn't this article mention **the reason** Microsoft
needed some major leverage against Apple?! The reason is that
the truth is so damning that they could never spin this in any
positive way. All the facts mentioned below are public
knowledge from the time but avoided like the plague by the
extremely biased press who fear Microsoft More that death
itself.

At the time of this threat Apple had three dozen lawsuits against
Microsoft ready to go for blatant theft of code like QuickTime
written into their operating system and other products. In cases
like QuikTime the entire application was used verbatim in their
products because they were so far behind they couldn't compete
so they do what Microsoft always does; steal and extort and
extinguish. This came shortly after Microsoft used threats to try
and have Apple knife the baby or kill QuickTime because
Microsoft couldn't compete. Apple settled a cross licence deal
where Apple has access to all Microsoft patents and APIs to that
date and for the next five years at no charge and Microsoft had
access to some stolen Apple code already in their products for a
$2 billion payment the purchase of non-voting stock and other
undisclosed items.

Microsoft dodged what would have been a crippling blow since
they would certainly have lost the lawsuits. Apple settled only
because they needed to focus on righting their ship and forging
onward.

Microsoft represented this publicly as saving Apple with buying
a tiny bit of stock worth 3 days cash flow for Apple. Apple at the
time had billions in cash and no debts and had recover from the
overstock write-down already.

Microsoft saw Mac Office as their ONLY bargaining tool and
threatened to kill it and try to kill Apple. Jobs did the responsible
thing and dealt with all issues leaving Apple free to innovate and
move forward. Microsoft continues to steal all Apple innovation
with no qualms and of course Microsoft has NEVER been able to
innovate outside extortion, theft and lies where they are
unparalleled in any industry with the exception of the Mafia.
Posted by Clues (84 comments )
Link Flag
Apple Wouldn't Survive Without Microsoft
Finally, a fair article from CNET showing that the little Apple company would be on it's deathbed if it wasn't for Microsoft. It's OfficeMac that keeps that platform alive. iPud and iLooneyToones sell better for the Windows platform. Now even Mac is copying Windows by using Intel chips - remember all the Mac Fanatics who used to scream that the Power PC chip was so much better? It's so great to see this finally made clear that Windows is better than Mac OS (if you could call that Frankenware a real OS).

Also great to have a buggy sandbox like Mac OS to test out new features before deploying them on real computers so real computer users can get things done on Windows. Thanks Apple!
Posted by iZune (58 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apple Would Survive
Obviously you're a PC zealot that has no clue as to what you're
talking about, and you probably have done no audio/video work
over the years.

Print, graphic design, and AV work is what has supported the Mac
platform and kept it thriving.
Posted by griffitc (1 comment )
Link Flag
Stop being so negative
I find your tone annoying, friend. In fact, I find the entire post lacking common sense. Windows has far more security problems than Mac OSX, and also, you seem to be another MS shill (note I do nothing to the characters) and even your username is to that effect. This kind of drivel shouldn't need to be posted where others can see it. Obviously, you should think before typing, else this would have never come to light.
Posted by ben::zen (127 comments )
Link Flag
I agree -- Apple is nothing w/out M$FT
I have to agree w/ the previous post; I think if Microsoft yanked Office for Mac, Mac sales would be a memory...

Personally, I like to see Apple on the defensive; I think it was a lot better company back in those days, and so was the quality control.

Not to mention, I think the term "Apple Care" is an oxymoron...two repairs in the first 3mo of ownership...1 to fix the random shut down (2wks)...1 to fix the damage from the previous repair, and the shutting down (1 week and counting)... "When can I get my computer?" "Uhh...we cannot guarantee repair times." I cannot tell you when I'll get it back, but I can tell you what I'm writing this on is not a Mac.
Posted by close5828 (230 comments )
Link Flag
ROTFL! Izzat So...?
Bad news, big boy - the only reason MSFT "invested" $150m
back in 1997 is because they were about to lose their butts in a
lawsuit, after MSFT got caught literally stealing code from
Quicktime.

Oops?

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Enjoy Your Windows Toy
I'll keep producing the content you consume, on the true
production powerhouse for Video, Audio, Flash, Multimedia,
Webpages, and Print Publishing -- Made on a Mac more than any
other system and for good reason.

Enjoy your Gaming Toy.
Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Link Flag
How times change....
The interesting point here is that, allegations of Microsoft code theft aside, Apple in 1997 would have been in pretty serious trouble without Microsoft applications. That's why the company has acted never to be in that position with Redmond again. The result is that, today, it would not be a fatal loss for Mac:Office to be discontinued. At this point, in fact, Apple is probably most vulnerable to Adobe, especially since it acquired Macromedia.
Now some corrections:
-- Apple would not be on "it's" deathbed in any case, but "its" deathbed.
-- "iLooneyTunes" doesn't sell better on Windows than Mac. It doesn't sell at all; it's free. Further, with at least a 15-1 advantage in total users, does a higher number of Windows downloads surprise you? It shouldn't. Does the fact that so many Windows users choose to use iTunes instead of offerings from Microsoft's more compliant partners suprise you? Perhaps it should.
-- Using Intel chips isn't copying Windows. Systems are written to accomplish tasks, then customized for the appropriate hardware. Though the distinction has blurred over the generations of chips and OSes, Windows was written to run on Intel chips; the chips were not built to accommodate Windows (more recent co-ordinated developments notwithstanding).
The PowerPC chip was better when it was introduced, but its developers had other plans for it than just to run computers. Apple did not have the clout to spur IBM or Motorola/Freescale to address its needs and so jumped ship to the company that would.
-- Almost not worth mentioning, but for a Windows supporter to declare Mac OS X a "buggy sandbox" is truly crossing into delusional space given Microsoft's ongoing inability to make its system software secure. It's not that the Mac OS is impregnable, it's that a comparison with Windows makes it look that way.
Posted by cincytee (40 comments )
Link Flag
The return of iZune . . .
Lonely little Zunie wandering aimlessly in his desperate search for
someone to "Squirt".
Posted by K.P.C. (227 comments )
Link Flag
survive
It's true that Office:Mac is a valuable piece of software for the
platform, but without it I don't think too many problems would
be caused. The majority of OS X users in business have little use
for MS Office, spending most of their time in Photoshop et al.
For home users: iWork & iLife is far superior to anything MS has
to offer.

I have Mac:Office at work, but the only real use I had for it was
to help set up a template document for one of the PC users
(before they switched)

If Office was pulled from Mac OS X then OS X users would simply
continue using it for the next 12 months & by then Apple (or 3rd
Party) would have a replacement in place.
Yes, NeoOffice (OOo) is available too - but it's Java
implementation is less than agreeable.

oh, as for the comment about A/V software - the author has
obviously not heard of the Industry Leading "Final Cut Pro" only
available on OS X
Posted by Riquez-001 (171 comments )
Reply Link Flag
PC Zealots try to rewrite history
The **Undisclosed Issue** is Microsoft Theft from Apple

The elephant in the room that all PC coverage isn't willing to talk
about is that Apple had caught Microsoft red handed stealing
dozens of software applications' code from Apple and was going
to sue Microsoft. This had the very real possibility that Microsoft
would be unable to ship Windows and many of it's applications if
an injunction was issued. This would stop Microsoft dead for the
duration of the lawsuits which could be years! There simply was
NO DEFENCE since the code was verbatim. That's why Bill was so
anxious to find a club to fight Apple with. The thief was caught
at the scene with the weapon in his hand smoking and the
victims blood all over him and the murder caught on video at the
police station. A slam dunk!

Why doesn't this article mention **the reason** Microsoft
needed some major leverage against Apple?! The reason is that
the truth is so damning that they could never spin this in any
positive way. All the facts mentioned below are public
knowledge from the time but avoided like the plague by the
extremely biased press who fear Microsoft More that death
itself.

At the time of this threat Apple had three dozen lawsuits against
Microsoft ready to go for blatant theft of code like QuickTime
written into their operating system and other products. In cases
like QuikTime the entire application was used verbatim in their
products because they were so far behind they couldn't compete
so they do what Microsoft always does; steal and extort and
extinguish. This came shortly after Microsoft used threats to try
and have Apple knife the baby or kill QuickTime because
Microsoft couldn't compete. Apple settled a cross licence deal
where Apple has access to all Microsoft patents and APIs to that
date and for the next five years at no charge and Microsoft had
access to some stolen Apple code already in their products for a
$2 billion payment the purchase of non-voting stock and other
undisclosed items.

Microsoft dodged what would have been a crippling blow since
they would certainly have lost the lawsuits. Apple settled only
because they needed to focus on righting their ship and forging
onward.

Microsoft represented this publicly as saving Apple with buying
a tiny bit of stock worth 3 days cash flow for Apple. Apple at the
time had billions in cash and no debts and had recover from the
overstock write-down already.

Microsoft saw Mac Office as their ONLY bargaining tool and
threatened to kill it and try to kill Apple. Jobs did the responsible
thing and dealt with all issues leaving Apple free to innovate and
move forward. Microsoft continues to steal all Apple innovation
with no qualms and of course Microsoft has NEVER been able to
innovate outside extortion, theft and lies where they are
unparalleled in any industry with the exception of the Mafia.
Posted by Clues (84 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Office 97 never came out for Mac
It was Office 98 when it was released on the Mac platform. Office
97 was the Windows release. I can't recall for sure which came first
but it's possible that Office 98 for Mac came out before Office 97
for Windows, the way Windows versions release dates keep getting
pushed back after the title is announced. It was very close at least,
same as we have 2008 coming out in August, months before 2008,
seven months after the consumer release of Office 2007 for
Windows, which came out on the last day of January after it was
already 2007.
Posted by Lucky Lou (88 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Free office suite anyone?
For 90% of the users 0out there. The free office suite openoffice.org will do users just fine. It has a Word, Excel and Powerpoint Clone and can import and export microsoft file types. They also have a huge online support group forum. Its worth a free download isnt it?

I wonder how many have already switched or students are using it becuase it is free?

KieranMullen
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's definitely a good choice
I've found OpenOffice.org to be a fabulous replacement to MSOffice. It helps so much that I can read/write MS formats, but I wish it had a publisher replacement... I find I need that a lot fo rschool projects, since we have all these boards and stuff in school. But~ that's why we've got the one copy of Office Student/Teacher edition on another computer (not mine)
Posted by ben::zen (127 comments )
Link Flag
I have MS Office and OpenOffice.org
My company furnishes me with MS Office but I have been using OpenOffice.org since the early Sun StarOffice days.

Lately, however, I've also been using Google Docs and Spreadsheets. It's not comparable to MS Office yet, but if it continues to improve, and you know it will, it is going to really shake up the market.

MS has to be worried if companies like GE and Proctor and Gamble are interested in it.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/admins/customers.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/admins/customers.html</a>
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
They Almost Killed It, But....
Microsoft almost killed their support for Mac, when suddenly they
realized... If we kill off Apple we will have no one to copy all of our
ideas from. If we don't have Apple to copy everything from all of
our "innovation" will cease to exist. Then what will we do? I guess
we have to keep supporting Mac until we can get some original
ideas of our own.
Posted by bsn (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I for got to mention
The above comment is only hypothetical (of course).
Posted by bsn (34 comments )
Link Flag
Win Office 97, then Mac Office 98
Office 98 (Mac) indeed came out a year after Office 97 (Win95); I
remember it well. I was a Mac user in a Windows company then,
and was anxiously awaiting its release, because until it came
out, previous versions of Mac Office would not open the 'new'
Office 97 files.
To see my coworkers' Word 97 files then, I had to use Tex-Edit
Plus, which didn't preserve any formatting at all- it just
displayed plain text amonst thousands of ASCII characters
representing markup code...yuck. (I have a feeling we're in for a
similar situation with Office '08 unless MS gets those Office '04
'converters' out soon...)
Posted by G|Net (89 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Office 97 was a pain for everyone
My corporation had just purchased a ton of MS Office (v4.3?) so they wouldn't allow us to upgrade to O97.

For nearly two years every time someone send us an O97 document we had to ask them to resend.

Fortunately, it doesn't look like Office 2007 is going to cause the same volume of problems because there is so little interest in it.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
NeoOffice set to open 2007 Word Documents
"NeoOffice for Mac only now supports Office 2007 Word documents
and Excel macros" This will be out soon so no need to panic.
Posted by kirkules (103 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Novell has released a patch for OOo
The windows patch for OpenOffice.org installed OK in my Mac. But I have been unable to judge the quality of its results because I don't know anyone who has Office 2007 or plans to buy it.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
Bad MacBook
You got a lemon. That's unfortunate. So is your record with Apple support. The point from expatincebu is that, according to buyer and user polls, your experience is statistically unusual, though I'm sure not unique. I hope that 1) they get your laptop back to you soon -- in good wroking order -- and 2) you not on reflex chuck it without giving it a proper chance.
Posted by cincytee (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bad macs
I had one too. Bad disk controller. It took around 6 months of
back and forth for them to finally replace the logic board. It was
frustrating and annoying.

A friend of mine had her 12" powerbook deform because the
battery got to hot. Later addressed in a recall but Apple wouldn't
do anything for her because, they aregued, she must have left it
somwhere too warm.

Another friend of mine had to go through the "send the mac
back" 3 times before they resolved his issue (again with the new
board). In fact, now that I think about it this happened to at least
2 other people I know as well.

Personally, I think the first year of powerbooks to come off the
line were relatively shoddy. Which happens.

I'm still probably getting the macbook pro. I'm not a huge mac
fan (I personaly think most of their applications aren't very
compelling) but its a great unix-ish development platform. A lot
easier to maintain on a day to day basis than a linux based
laptop (this is a major issue for me. I used to be a sysadmin. I
hated being a sysadmin. I don't want to be a sysadmin. The less
sysadmin stuff I have to do the better. Linux still has too much
sysadmining for my taste - even ubuntu).
Posted by rapier1 (2722 comments )
Link Flag
Microsft's Survival in Apples Hands
If Microsoft didn't copy verbatim everything Apple does they
would still be using the stolen Cheap &#38; Dirty DOS that IBM gifted
the market to them with.

At every single stage Microsoft simply copies all things Apple,
just look at Vista. Yes it's built on a boat load of crap code
nobody can make sense of but all the added features are as
close a copy of old Mac features as Microsoft coders can make.
Of course they have no vision or understanding of markets or
customers nor do they care as long as they can pretend their
Vista OS has the same look and features what does it matter that
nothing actually works and they have no idea why these features
have been added and all the ones Microsoft announced have
been dropped.

Must be quite a schizophrenic world working for Microsoft.
Nobody has any idea where they're going only that they're
following as fast as they can those Apple tail lights far far far of
in the distance. Apple likes to shoot off a few fake disks for
Microsoft's dumpster divers to go off on useless tangents just to
add insult to injury to the poor stupid fools.
Posted by Clues (84 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Interesting
What do you see as overwhelmingly innovative coming from Apple?
I not trying to be a snot I'm really just curious. Much of what I see
seems to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. They put it
together very nicely but its seems to me that everyone is borrowing
from everyone else most of the time.
Posted by rapier1 (2722 comments )
Link Flag
They do copy a lot...
Except for this whole Apple video thing-a-ma-bob. Which seems to be a case of Apple copying MS and the Xbox 360's ability to seemlessly interface with a Media Center PC. Only difference being that you can play games on the 360 as well.
Posted by Vince66 (27 comments )
Link Flag
180
Seems to me the story implies just the opposite: Microsoft clearly bailed out Apple, even going so far as giving them a $150 million dollar investment, and continuing a project which maintained the Mac as a viable platform. Do you really think that anything Apple rolled out as an alternative to Office would have dominated? Like it or not, Office has definately helped keep Apple alive.
Posted by jmludwig99 (15 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft simply copies all things Apple
Yep, makes sense. That must be why the Mac got protected memory and pre-emptive multitasking seven years after Windows....
Posted by Siegfried Schtauffen (269 comments )
Link Flag
Bloatware
I disagree with the meaning given for Bloatware. To me excess features is irrelevant. I have always seen it to refer to a program that uses too much system resources for what it does.
Posted by Siegfried Schtauffen (269 comments )
Reply Link Flag
totally awful
<h1><strong><em><a href="http://www.theycann.com/">globalwarming awareness2007</a><em><strong></h1>
Posted by justgold79 (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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