Apple Needs Microsoft?

I’ve debated this topic many times… does Apple need Microsoft to continue growth?

I’ll focus mainly on the workplace, because I feel that is the primary environment that has the most influence over what choice people make.

One could argue that all Microsoft would have to do is stop making Office for Mac, then the Apple OS in the workplace would diminish greatly.  Yes, there are alternatives such as iWork or OpenOffice.  Neither offer equal replacement functionality of MS Office, so deploying them in the corporate world wouldn’t work.  Installing Office for Windows in Crossover for Mac?  It’s buggy and lacking if you ask me.  Running a Windows virtual machine?  Works great, if you don’t mind everything slowing down quite a bit.  It also drives up your costs substantially.  I would get irate having to have a VM running all the time.  Also, could you imagine trying to train 100+ employees how to work back and forth between a VM?

One could also argue that MS Office is Microsoft’s cash cow, and their losses would be greater than their profits if they stopped making Office for Mac.  This would probably be short term because the previous Mac users would have to switch over to Windows, so the lost costs would eventually be made up.

I personally think, if Microsoft was fed up enough with the OS wars with Apple, they would be willing to sacrifice some short term revenue to end the competition once and for all.  So, maybe Apple should be rethinking their whole ad campaign strategy?

Then, of course, one has to consider what Apple’s primary consumer base is.  A lot of people have converted to Mac because of the flaming wreck that is Vista, mainly because the software they need to get their work done exists.  How many of these converts do you think would have made the jump if not for Office for Mac?

Is it possible that Apple would work harder at improving iWork’s compatibility with Office?  I could see them pulling from and improving on the OpenOffice code base.  Seamless integration would go a long way, but I have the feeling that most corporations wouldn’t be willing to risk dealing with the large amount of potential problems that would arise during this transition phase.

What do you think would happen?

P.S. – I’m proud of myself for not once referring to Microsoft as M$.  :)