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There is no small irony in the prospect that Apple's Macintosh - arguably the ultimate in closed and proprietary systems, at least until the Intel alliance - could become the open source development platform of choice.

The Register has spotted increasing numbers of Macs at open source developer events during the last year. And next month should see the long-awaited (and much delayed) full release of Mac OS X 10.5 which Steve Jobs has been bigging up all year as the "most compliant" Posix/Unix implementation.

But it's not only Apple that is enthusiastic about the Mac as an open source development platform. IBM's developerWorks site has lately become full of bullish pieces lauding the combination of Mac, Java and the open source development environment Eclipse.

As if this were not enough, even the "auld enemy" Microsoft is having to take the Mac seriously - albeit as a target rather than a development platform. With Mac accounting for around 20 per cent of all sales so far this year, Microsoft has finally unveiled pricing for the next, Mac version of Office.

It was always rumoured that early Windows applications were developed first on the Macintosh and then ported to the PC. Maybe the folks at Redmond will see this as an opportunity to return to their roots. ®

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