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Microsoft’s sales and marketing people can no longer buy iPads or Macs on the company’s dollar.

Staff in Microsoft’s sales, marketing and services group are reported to have been told they cannot, as of mid-March, expense the Apple gear.

The policy was outlined in an allegedly leaked internal memo from SMSG chief financial officer Alain Crozier last week. Microsoft has apparently not commented on the email.

Microsoft stopped reimbursing employees for iPhones and Blackberry data plans in 2009, saying it would only pick up the tab for Windows Mobile devices.

A year later, Microsoft gave Windows Phone 7 to its 89,000 employees.

It’s not unusual for makers of tech to mandate use of their own products and not those from the rival, especially on the desktop or in the data centre, but there’s no indication this is part of a plan to weed out the Apple infestation from the Microsoft ranks.

The company has in the past encouraged employees to literally dump their iPods in waste bins around campus as it pushed the much-unwanted Zune player. Chief executive Steve Ballmer, meanwhile, has made his feelings towards the iPhone plain, by snatching a phone from one staffer’s hands at a company event, throwing it on the floor and pretending to stamp on it.

Officially outlawing Apple would be counter-intuitive to Microsoft’s conversion to BYOD (bring your own device), where employers support the devices that their employees bring into the workplace.

It would also be difficult to achieve: about 10 per cent of Microsoft’s workforce are said to access the company’s email system using an iPhone while 80 per cent who own a portable music player have an iPod. ®

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