Microsoft will stop developing versions of its Internet Explorer (IE) browser software for Macintosh computers.
It says that Apple Computer's Safari is now all that Apple needs.
Microsoft will no longer develop IE as independent software, only as part of its Windows OS (operating system). "Browsers are now a generally established piece of the OS and it doesn't make sense to keep developing them separately," Microsoft UK desktop marketing manager, Neil Laver, said.
Microsoft's development of IE for Apple's computers was driven by a five-year agreement that had now lapsed, Laver said.
"We anticipated this, ever since they announced there would be no more standalone versions," an analyst with Forrester Research, Rob Enderle, said. "If they'd continued to produce a Mac version it would have been a very unique product,"
Microsoft's OS and browser were very closely coupled, and now that Apple had developed its own browser, there was no reason for Microsoft to continue development, he said.
The decision will cause concern for Mac users who use IE to access sites that are not accessible using other browsers. Many site developers develop purely for IE as it is the dominant browser worldwide.
Microsoft will continue to develop a version of its Office suite for Macs and its Virtual PC for Mac, Laver said.
"We will definitely continue to support Internet standards," he said.
However, Enderle was not convinced Office development would continue.
"With this decision we may be seeing the first steps to pulling out of the Mac platform altogether," he said. "One of the jokes in the industry is about how long will it take for Gates and Ballmer to take their ball and go home."