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Apple's G4 – the real Windows challenger?

Microsoft's $150m investment in Apple may have done it more harm than good

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Microsoft's modest $150 million investment in Apple (when Jobs was booed for accepting it in return for Internet Explorer being the default browser) may be Microsoft's best ever use of its cash in that Apple shares may zoom up further -- they hit $65 at close of play Monday. Past may not be prelude in that the money that Microsoft makes from Mac applications may not continue indefinitely -- and developers could return to write serious apps for the platform. Although Apple has rounded up some 60 developers for the launch, it is too soon to say whether it will attract a critical mass to accelerate Apple's move back to its days of glory. The G4's potential for compressing QuickTime or MP3 files is clear. It was only two years ago that a custom-built one gigaflop supercomputer for the University of California at Irvine cost $50,000. Now it's $1599 -- that's progress. Seymour Cray, the founder of Cray Research and the father of supercomputers, was amused when he heard some years ago that Apple had bought a Cray to simulate Apple design: he was using an Apple to simulate the Cray-3. It is just possible that Microsoft will find itself challenged more by the G4 than the likes of Java, CORBA, NDS, or even the Department of Justice. The key factor will be whether Apple will be able to meet the demand, and whether the quality will be good. The timing looks just good enough to capture some purchases that would have otherwise have gone to Windows 2000 PCs. It is beginning to look increasingly likely that Microsoft will announce Windows 2000 at Comdex (yet again), but not ship it until well into next year, especially with the likes of IBM banging on about the need for quality. A key indicator yesterday was Dell's announcement that it would now be offering a free upgrade to Windows 2000 to those who bought a Dell Windows NT 4 PC. For some curious reason, Dell said that this free upgrade program would be available "through February". Is there a message here? ® Power Mac G4 Coverage Apple unwraps 'desktop supercomputer'

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