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No more Internet Explorer versions for Macs

SHARE No more Internet Explorer versions for Macs

SEATTLE — Microsoft Corp. will no longer develop versions of its popular Web-browsing software for Apple Computer's Macintosh system, saying Apple's own browsing software is a logical choice for Mac users.

Except for two minor upgrades, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5 is the last version it will develop for the Mac, said Jessica Sommers, product manager for the software company's Macintosh Business Unit.

It makes more sense for Mac users to use Apple's Safari Web-browser, she said. Although still in beta testing, the browser has already gained attention for its speed and some of its features.

Sommers said Apple is in a better position to create a browser with more features and that offers a smoother experience because "Apple has access to functionality in the (operating system) that Microsoft doesn't."

"They can do things because they're developing on their own (operating system) that we as a third-party programmer can't do," she said.

It's a complaint that has been leveled at Microsoft in the past by outside software vendors, who said Microsoft's access to its underlying code gave it an inside track on making its own add-on products run more smoothly than others.

Microsoft is not backing away from the Mac and will continue to develop other software, she said, including a new version of Office business software for the Mac.

"Our relationship is strong as ever," she said. "This is by no means an indication . . . that we're walking away from other products."

The move isn't surprising, said Rob Helm, research director for Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based an independent research firm based in Kirkland, Wash.

Internet Explorer already has more than 90 percent of the market, he said, and Microsoft doesn't need the added exposure to Mac users, who constitute less than 5 percent of computer users.

And Mac users have a promising option in Safari, he said.

"I picture this as not being a major problem for Apple," Helm said.

He added that Microsoft may be "rethinking how much it invests in the Mac," picking and choosing among the more profitable software — such as its Office business software for the Mac — and less profitable, such as Internet Explorer, which was a free download.