Cheers beat jeers as Jobs describes Apple's future

Was there a clap-o-meter in the house? In typically boisterous mood, the audience for Steve Jobs' keynote speech at Macworld Expo provided a running assessment of his landmark announcements about Apple. 'I hope that's not a boo I'm hearing,' quipped Jobs, as the crowd absorbed the announcement that his chum Larry Ellison was joining the Apple board. Mutterings were drowned by a roar of approval a few seconds later when Jobs announced that most of the current Apple board had resigned.

Was there a clap-o-meter in the house? In typically boisterous mood, the audience for Steve Jobs' keynote speech at Macworld Expo provided a running assessment of his landmark announcements about Apple.

"I hope that's not a boo I'm hearing," quipped Jobs, as the crowd absorbed the announcement that his chum Larry Ellison was joining the Apple board. Mutterings were drowned by a roar of approval a few seconds later when Jobs announced that most of the current Apple board had resigned.

The speech, which was broadcast across the Internet in RealAudio format, was a world away from the rambling, unglamorous address delivered last year by former Apple CEO Gil Amelio. And the appointment of Ellison was hardly the most controversial announcement - that honour went to the new alliance with Microsoft.

Declaring that "Apple lives in an ecosystem and destructive relationships don't help anybody," Jobs outlined, to a hesistant response, Apple's new relationship with Microsoft.

The alliance grew out of discussions over patent disputes, said Jobs, and would include full cross-licensing of all the two companies' patents for the next five years. Microsoft would commit to develop Office for the Mac for the next five years. Ironically, it was in defence of another company's software that the crowd got most unruly.

"On the issue of browsers ..." began Jobs, to a growing chorus of jeers. "We've looked at Internet Explorer and we think it's a great browser - and it'll be shipping as the default browser in all MacOS systems." More jeering. "But because we believe in choice ..." laughter. "We'll be shipping other browsers with the OS and users will be able to set the default to those." Applause.

For the third time, mutterings turned to cheers when Jobs announced that Microsoft would be buying $150 million of Apple stock - but that it would be non-voting stock.

Then Bill Gates turned up via satellite and declared that it was "going to be a lot of fun helping out" with Apple's planned renaissance. He didn't take questions, so nobody could ask him about he much he looked forward to working with Ellison.

"The era of competition between Microsoft and Apple is over," Jobs told the crowd in closing, making Apple sound as powerful as it has in years.

"The thing about Apple and Microsoft is that between them they have 100% of the desktop computer market," said Jobs. "So whatever Apple and Microsoft decide to do - it's a standard."

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