Microsoft-Apple deal a political move

Microsoft's $US150 investment in Apple Computer is mainly a political move - aimed at keeping a rival alive and federal regulators away, according to industry analysts.

"Gates is not an altruist," said Roger Kay, senior research analyst at IDC. "He needs a viable straw competitor to keep the Justice Department from bothering Microsoft," Kay said.

Microsoft's $US150 million investment - purchasing stock at market prices - will give it non-voting shares in the company, shares that it will not sell for at least three years.

"This is excellent insurance against a Justice Department antitrust suit," said David Coursey, editor of the industry newsletter.

"If Apple goes down then Windows becomes a monopoly. It's more efficient for Microsoft to keep Apple alive, because it avoids the antitrust and comes out looking like the good guy."

Microsoft's CFO Greg Maffei said antitrust issues had not been a top concern regarding the agreement.