Apple vs Microsoft, or just Steve vs Steve?

It's war, Steve, but not as we know it - Microsoft vs Apple, Apple vs Microsoft - it goes back decades. Apple has almost always been the underdog, although in my experience underdogs aren't usually this well-heeled.
But the trouble is the two Steves need each other. That being Steves Ballmer and Jobs. Apple needs Microsoft to keep making its Mac:Office software because Apple knows that it's one of the aspects of Macs that entices users over to the Mac OS. Then professionals on Macs need seamless exchange with those millions of Office users on Windows.
The importance of easy information exchange is so important that Apple built Word compatibility into its free word processor, Text Edit: it's in every Mac's Applications folder. Text Edit can also save-out (under File>Save As) as various Word formats. Likewise, the iWork suite is Microsoft Office compatible: Pages can open and write Word documents, Numbers can open and write Excel docs and Keynote can open and write PowerPoint presentations.
Meanwhile, Windows has borrowed from Apple before - original Apple components of operating system software went into Windows 2.
In quite an interesting story - according the site - Bill Gates and his head counsel Bill Neukom (got to love that name - do you think his friends called him 'Duke'?) made an offer to license features of Apple's operating system because Apple was rumbling about legal action over OS similarities in Windows 1.
A contract was subsequently drawn up, partly because Apple's CEO of the time, John Sculley, wanted Microsoft to continue to develop Macintosh apps like Word and Excel. As I've said before, both of these were available for Mac years before they were available for Windows back when geeky Gates was entranced by Apple's graphic user interface.
Apple and Microsoft later worked together to develop TrueType font technology in the late 1980s, partly to break Adobe's impressive hold on type technology as a result of the explosion of desktop publishing. This led to perhaps the most dramatic (of a few) fall-outs between Apple and Adobe. TrueType was supported on both Apple and Windows operating systems from the early 1990s.
Later, Apple worked to enable specific Apple technologies for Windows - QuickTime, for example, which helped lead to a freely downloadable Windows version of iTunes. Of course, this was so there were no hurdles to Windows users buying Apple's iPods.
None of this stopped Windows trying to develop its own technologies as alternatives to those that had, or were becoming, standards. Windows Media Video (.wmv) was one, and more recently, Silverlight has been developed and pushed as an alternative to Adobe's Flash.
It has just become evident that another common Apple format will be supported in Windows 7 - AAC (Advanced Audio Codec). This reproduces sound better than MP3 while also offering better compression. Apple uses AAC as the format in the iTunes Store and on iPods and iPhone.
The support for AAC will be welcome to Windows users with music and video encoded in Apple iTunes, as it means Windows 7 should be able to play iTunes media in the Windows Media Player. Windows 7 users should be able to index and search across their iTunes media without needing to use iTunes as the default player. You can read more about this at APC mag.
So while there are Apple techs and developers working on technologies and software (iTunes, Safari) that work in Windows, no doubt collaborating with developers over at Richmond, the same thing happens the other way around.
There's the rather impressive Mac Business Unit (aka the MacBU) based at Richmond, Seattle, where Microsoft is headquartered. It's a big, hard-working Mac developer embedded right inside the massive Windows machine. I've never heard of fist fights in the corridors, either. I say that because I've met MacBU members several times, over the years. They are passionate Apple fans. In fact, I've only ever met an actual Apple engineer once, as far as I know, in the flesh. (Not counting Steve Wozniak, of course.)
The MacBU has been hiring recently, making it look as if, despite all the name calling, collaboration between the two computer companies is still considered eminently worthwhile.
There are also MacBU units based in California, nearer to Apple. One of these Californian Microsoftians has just become the new head of the MacBU.
Eric Wilfrid, a foundation member of the MacBU, is now managing the strategic vision and direction for all of MacBU's software and online products developed for Mac. He also has to manage the business relationship with Apple Computer Inc but hey, these people have known each other a long time. They speak the same language. They probably hang out together at the Macworld conference (I don't know that, so don't quote me on it).
Wilfrid was previously a product unit manager for the MacBU in the Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View, California, running the team of engineers responsible to the MacBU team.
All of this may be hard to believe with the public anti-Apple stance taken by Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, Apple's advertising department taunts and whoever was responsible for planting a Microsoft 'I'm a PC' recording kiosk right outside an Apple Store in Birmingham, England.

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