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Hebrew Office for Mac looms – enough to head-off anti-trust suit?

Yeddah Yaddah

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Sources close to Apple Europe are adamant that a Macintosh version of Microsoft Office which supports Hebrew will be announced within the next few weeks.

And that would mean a huge victory for Register readers, whose unrelenting campaign to petition Microsoft to support right-to-left languages such as Hebrew and Arabic on the Mac may finally have paid off. We'll see.

Officials at Yeda, Inc. - effectively Apple's subsidiary in Israel - could not be contacted for comment.

Microsoft's reluctance to support Hebrew in its products has relegated the Macintosh to "Fourth World Status" in Israel, in the words of one correspondent there. Without Office, a Macintosh is a pretty hard sell.

And it has prompted the Israeli AntiTrust commission to examine the Apple-Microsoft relationship in some depth. Microsoft explained that it couldn't afford to incorporate right-to-left support in Office and that Apple didn't have the support in the underlying operating system. Nine months on, Apple does have support in the OS, making both sides' silence increasingly hard to justify.

The Register's campaign certainly hit a sore point in Cupertino, with orders not to communicate, even informally, dispatched from the CEO's office. This dismayed a large number of readers who had taken Apple CEO Steve Jobs' commitment to education at face value, as it included many Arabic and Hebrew scholars and academics who effectively had no option but to buy into the Microsoft monopoly.

Perhaps Jobs now understands that press relations means more than sending advanced kit to a dribblingly grateful Walt Mossberg over at the Wall Street Journal. The two million unique readers of The Register - including those very many scholars and academics - seem to have called his bluff. ®

Bootnote As we reported yesterday, a localised version of Sun's StarOffice should be available by the end of the year, or early 2004. And a very promising word processor for Mac OS X that supports Hebrew, Mellel is available now, for a mere $20. And it looks very promising indeed. ®

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