Microsoft announced that it had signed an agreement with Apple to develop Microsoft Office for Mac OS X for at least the next five years for both Intel and PowerPC Macs.
Microsoft will also port Virtual PC for Mac to the new Macs, enabling Mac users to run Windows at near-native speeds.
"We are committed to moving forward with Virtual PC," said Amanda Lefebvre, marketing manager for Microsofts Mac Business Unit.
Apple has previously stated that it would not prevent developers from enabling Windows to run on the new Macs, but Virtual PC for Intel Macs will enable users to run both Mac OS X and Windows at the same time, without rebooting.
"Users still need to switch between both environments to make the experience less intrusive," Lefebvre said.
Microsoft did not announce when it would ship the new Virtual PC, but users of the new Macs will have to wait for the port.
Unlike the current version of Office, the current version of Virtual PC wont run under Rosetta, Apples support environment for PowerPC-native applications on Intel Macs.
Microsoft also announced that it would switch the next version of Microsoft Office for Macintosh over to the XML-based file formats of Office 12 for Windows. Microsoft again wouldnt give a time frame.
"Typically, were on a two- to three-year development cycle. We need to take a look at the Intel-based Macs and how that impacts the transition [to the XML formats]."
Microsoft also announced that it would provide converter software to translate between the current Office and XML formats in order to continue compatibility between the Mac and Windows versions.
In the near term, Microsoft will issue an update for Entourage 2004, version 11.2.3, in March.
The update will add support for Mac OS X iSync, which will allow users to integrate Exchange contacts and calendars with Apple Address Book and iCal. Users will also be able to use Spotlight to search Entourage.
March will also see the release of Microsoft Messenger 5.1, focusing on enhancing its enterprise features. The update will add encryption of file transfers to external contacts.
When a user is logged on to the Microsoft Office Live Communications Server on more than one machine, Messenger 5.1 will be able to tell where to send a message.
IT managers will be able to prevent users from archiving chats in order to comply with some companies archiving policies.