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Today in Apple history: Apple signed a harmful contract with Microsoft


November 21, 1985 Following the departure of Steve Jobs, Apple is close to signing its own death warrant by licensing the look and feel of the Macintosh to Microsoft.

The deal, between Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Apple CEO John Sculley, comes very soon after the release of the Windows operating system. The Pact grants Microsoft a “non-exclusive, worldwide, free, permanent, non-transferable license to use [parts of the Mac technology] in current and future software programs and to license them to and through third parties for use in their software programs. ”

Oh, boy!

Invaders at the (Bill) Gates

The Apple-Microsoft deal, now considered disastrous, somehow (somehow!) Made sense in 1985. The Macintosh didn’t set the world on fire from a sales perspective. Gates was an Apple programmer at the time, and his two most successful programs were Excel and Word for the Macintosh. He felt that Apple should adopt what would become a Windows strategy, by licensing Mac OS to third parties.

Apple has denied this, believing that companies serious about software should also build their own hardware. As a result, companies like Digital Research have started building Mac clones. Apple has successfully tackled the challenge of digital research, but Microsoft has done more in its favor. You could argue that Apple needed Microsoft software more than Microsoft needed Apple hardware.

Under the agreement, Microsoft agreed to continue developing Word for Mac. The company also agreed to postpone the arrival of Excel for Windows until October 1, 1986.

Microsoft would also acknowledge – on screen – that “visual displays in [its programs] works of visual representations generated by Apple’s Lisa and Macintosh graphical user interface programs have been performed. ” (Gates claimed that Windows simply borrowed from the same Xerox PARC graphical user interface that inspired Apple’s customized GUI.)

The deal with Microsoft turns out to be bad for Apple

This pact between Cupertino and Redmond proved disastrous for Apple. Although it produced the desired effect of buying short-term peace, it set the stage for Apple’s troubled 1990s. It also paved the way for Microsoft’s later dominance of the software industry.

Relationships deteriorated a few years later when Windows 2.0 arrived, which looked much closer to the Macintosh interface than the original Windows. Apple claimed that Microsoft copied 189 different design elements illegally – only for Judge William Schwarzer to rule that the interface elements for the new Windows were covered by an existing license between Apple and Microsoft.





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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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