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Unraveling the Office for Mac Withdrawal Myth
According to proponents of this myth, Microsoft is poised to drop Office for Mac, resulting in immediate devastation for the Mac platform. They're wrong; here's why.

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More Nails in the Coffin
The only plausible way left to spin this myth is to suggest that, while not dropping Office for Mac entirely, Microsoft might just let it go nowhere. There's a big problem there too, however. Apple isn't subsidizing Microsoft's software development, nor are they licensing Office on new Macs (they only bundle an advertisement for it, a "Test Drive" version that expires).

That means that Microsoft has to actually sell copies of Office to Mac users in order to recoup the significant costs associated with its ongoing development, and the costs of running the largest Mac software development unit outside of Apple.

If Microsoft slouches in delivering Office for Mac, they risk losing their sunk development costs and leave a lot of easy profits on the table. They also risk fumbling their second monopoly: Office.

Currently, the only competition to Office is Corel's WordPerfect amongst the legal crowd; Sun's StarOffice/OpenOffice suites, which are popular with Linux users; and niche products from a few other minor players, including Apple's iWork bundle. Microsoft can rather handily retain its second monopoly by simply pushing out a decent bump of Office every couple years, both for Windows and for the Mac, as they have been doing.

An abandonment of Office for Mac would not just throw away easy profits (angering their own shareholders), but would provide instant traction and a marketshare vacuum on the Mac OS X platform for the existing Office alternatives from Apple, FOSS, and third party developers to exploit. This would weaken Microsoft's monopoly position in a very visible way, and lend support for defection from Microsoft Office on Windows.

More significantly, since the existing Office for Mac 2004 is already a good enough product for Mac users in enterprise environments, any abandonment of future Office for Mac development would really have a limited negative impact against Apple and Mac OS X.

Had Microsoft dropped Office in 1998, then yes, the newly emerging Mac OS X platform would have been conspicuously missing a native version of Office, and that would have been a major ding against Apple. But there's no leverage left. It's 2006; Mac OS X now has its own healthy ecosystem, of which the Mac OS X native Office for Mac is already a part.
If Microsoft acted in its own disinterest and viciously attacked Apple with a ruthless destruction of its own MacBU, little real damage would occur to the Mac platform, particularly when compared with the damage Microsoft would risk to its profits, revenue, and its Office monopoly.

Given the billions of dollars Microsoft has recently blown in desperate, faultering attempts to find profitable new markets, from WinCE devices, to WMA players, to WebTV and Ultimate TV, to XBOX gaming and Internet search advertising, does it seem likely they would throw away their number two monopoly cash cow to ineffectually ding Apple, the hardware manufacturer of one of their easiest to sell, profitable software products?

The next time you hear someone repeating the Office for Mac Withdrawal Myth, forward them to this page and let them know their credibility has been seriously called into question. Then post their name and the URL of their story to keep track of tech writers who intentionally print misleading information.

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