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Apple's early start on Intel migration catches out Microsoft

Apple Computer and Microsoft have announced a new five-year agreement that commits Microsoft to developing its Office apps suite for Intel-based Macs, although the suite won’t be ready for the first of Apple’s new Intel-driven machines.

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Apple Computer and Microsoft have announced a new five-year agreement that commits Microsoft to developing its Office apps suite for Intel-based Macs, although the suite won’t be ready for the first of Apple’s new Intel-driven machines.

Apple announced its first Intel-powered Macs this week at the Macworld show in the US, after deciding to migrate in time away from IBM’s PowerPC processors.

As part of the software agreement, Microsoft will create “universal binaries” for its Mac Office suite, which includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint and the Entourage e-mail client. The binaries are versions of the software that run equally well on both the older PowerPC architecture and the new Intel-based machines.

However, until Office’s applications are rewritten to run on Intel-based Macs natively, Mac users will have to run Office using the new machines’ Rosetta emulation system.

The drag to providing immediate native Office support for Intel-based Macs has been caused partly by Apple launching new Intel iMacs this week and announcing it would start shipping Intel laptops next month rather than sticking to its previously announced plans to move to Intel processors from the middle of 2006.

By the end of this year, all Macs will be sold with Intel chips.

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