Microsoft's Word-Processing Program To Let Apple, IBM Machines Share Data

By Brenton R. Schlender, Staff Reporter
The Wall Street Journal

October 27, 1986

Microsoft Corp. today will unveil a word-processing program that, among other things, acts as a bridge for sharing documents between the Apple Computer Inc. Macintosh personal computer and International Business Machines Corp. personal computers.

Word Version 3.0, the $395 program written for the Macintosh, will enable offices using both Apple and IBM-compatible personal computer outfitted with complementary Microsoft programs to share documents and word-processing tasks easily. The Macintosh version of Word also takes advantage of the special graphics capabilities of the Apple desk-top computer.

The new program doesn't provide complete Macintosh-IBM compatibility; for instance, it doesn't allow swapping of spread-sheet and data-base files. But the word-processing product is the first to enable documents and files created on a Macintosh to be edited directly on an IBM personal computer, and vice versa.

"We've been saying for a year now that from Apple's point of view, it is important to build logical bridges into the IBM-compatible world," said John Sculley, Apple's chairman and chief executive officer. "This product is an example of that."

Ironically, the product comes from the company that as much as IBM itself created the industry standards which Apple's main competitors follow. Microsoft's MS-DOS operating system serves as the internal traffic cop in every IBM and IBM-compatible personal computer, directing the flow of programs and information from the keyboard to the screen, into memory or onto a printer.

Apple, at Mr. Sculley's prodding, has been trying to persuade businesses to buy its Macintosh computers, which in the early days after their introduction in early 1984 were perceived by many as being fancy and sophisticated toys. One of the reasons for Macintosh's poor penetration of the business market was that very little serious, business-oriented software had been developed for the Macintosh.

In the past year, however, Apple has introduced more powerful Macintosh computers and more sophisticated software that performs advanced graphics, spreadsheet analysis, accounting tasks and data-storage tasks. By August, the Macintosh had become the biggest seller of all models of personal computers, according to several market research firms.

What was still missing, however, was an advanced word-processing program, Mr. Sculley conceded. "We had two kinds of comments from customers," he said. "Some thought MacWrite (Apple's own word-processing program) wasn't powerful enough for business use, and some thought that other programs didn't fully take advantage of the Macintosh."

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple still faces stiff competition, even with Microsoft's new word-processing program in its corner. Indeed, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Aldus Corp. last week announced an alliance to market personal-computer systems equipped with software packages that can produce many elaborate graphics and sophisticated documents similar to those the Macintosh can create.

Mr. Sculley believes Apple will only benefit from direct comparisons, however. "Macintoshes and IBM PCs have to coexist," he said, and now there is a program that "really works in both environments. It really shows off the Macintosh at its best, and lets us coexist at the least."

Unlike the markets for spread-sheet programs and data-base file systems, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft's word-processing program sells in a highly competitive market that no company dominates. Lotus Development Corp. of Cambridge, Mass., dominates the spread-sheet business with its 1-2-3 program, and Ashton-Tate Co. of Torrance, Calif., leads the data-base market with its dBase II program.

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