Sources say IBM will today announce that it has signed to license the Macintosh OS from Apple Computer, a move which would provide a much-needed financial boost for both Apple and its Power PC consortium partners, IBM and Motorola.
Although Apple is a major competitor to IBM in a desktop manufacturing, and IBM is committed to its OS/2 operating system, the pact is expected to prove IBM's determination that Power PC can take market share from Intel's Pentium Pro.
The deal will allow IBM to sub-license the OS in a similar way to Motorola and Olivetti, which have already signed.
Mike Cross, UK MD of IBM and Apple Var Ameridata Global, said many corporates are looking at ways of migrating from Macintosh to PC hardware. 'Power PC helps them do that,' he said. 'This deal would have no fundamental effect on migration decisions, but Apple seems to be going for niches, and IBM is certainly doing things with migration and cross-licensing.' Neither company would comment on the rumours. US sources said that IBM wants to expand the Power PC market and that its microelectronics division was the driving force behind the proposed deal. One analyst said Motorola's licensing agreement will help it benefit from processor sales, but IBM's contract would mean a conflict of interests between OS/2 and the Macintosh OS.
The deal, which is expected to be confirmed today when IBM announces its Q1 results, could expand the Apple market, which has shrunk from 11.6 per cent 12 months ago to around 10 per cent now.
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