Internet Outlook with Richard Wiggins | 58 | WebReference

Internet Outlook with Richard Wiggins | 58

Vol. 1 No. 5 August 18, 1997 home / experts / internet

The Winner and Still Champion Is

Microsoft and Apple: Why All the Fuss?

So who wins in all this? By my count, Microsoft is the big winner:

  • Internet Explorer will be the default browser on new Macs, allowing further erosion of Netscape market share
  • Microsoft's antitrust concerns are alleviated
  • A corner of Java is denied to Sun and Netscape

The main costs for Microsoft seem to be:

  • $150M in cash – essentially chump change
  • Developing Office products on a parallel schedule for the Mac platform. This may mean a slight increment in development costs, or slight delays in announcing new releases.

Apple's winnings appear to be slight indeed: a relatively modest cash contribution, the welcome news that Windows versions of Microsoft Office will not lead Mac editions, some involvement with Microsoft on the Java/Active X front, and little more. It's hardly enough to save a company seemingly in a death spiral.

So why all the hoopla? First, stories about Bill Gates, the richest man on Earth, always sell well. Just as People magazine can increase sales merely by putting a photo of Princess Di on the cover, Fortune magazine finds that a Bill Gates cover is an instant boost to circulation.

Also, the story also has compelling narrative aspects. It's an epic tale of two firms that have existed as long as we've had microcomputers. We're not sure what color hat Bill has on as he rides across the prairie offering to save the rival rancher from doom. And the Apple saga in particular reads like a soap opera, with Jobs expelled then wooed back, with Larry Ellison threatening to buy the company, with CEOs hired and fired faster than George Steinbrenner could imagine.

In terms of real impact on the computer industry or on the nascent Internet industry, though, the Apple-Microsoft deal means very little at all.

Comments are welcome

Produced by Richard Wiggins and

Created: August 18, 1997
Revised: August 22, 1997