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Microsoft expanding Mac team ahead of new products

Microsoft's Mac Business Unit last week kicked off the largest hiring spree in its history as the group prepares to accelerate development of a new wave of software products for Apple users.

"The Mac BU at Microsoft is growing - we’re launching our biggest hiring initiative since the inception of MacBU eleven years ago," said Craig Eisler, General Manager of the Mac BU at Microsoft. "We are hard at work planning for products beyond Office 2008, and we are growing our team to help turn our vision into reality."

Microsoft's Mac chief didn't elaborate on exactly what those future products and directions would entail, though he did promise prospective hires the opportunity to work for the "the brightest, coolest, and most interesting business unit at Microsoft" where the "free caffeine, [...] milk and juice" will be ever flowing.

When pressed for details, a spokesperson for the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant would say only that the company expects to release new versions of Office for Mac every 2 to 3 years.

"We expect this to be the case with our next release," the spokersperson said. "We’re still the in early stages of planning and have nothing more to share at this time."

The Mac Business unit was originally conceived in the months leading up to Macworld Expo 1997 as part of a compromise between Apple and Microsoft. Under the terms of the deal, Apple agreed to bundle Internet Explorer for Mac on all the systems it sold in order to help Microsoft thwart Netscape's efforts to provide a true cross-platform browser.

In return, Microsoft agreed to pump $150 million into the then beleaguered Mac maker, cease threatening to delay Office 98 for Mac, and commit to developing new versions of the productivity suite for Apple customers for the next five years.

The pact helped the Mac BU quickly gain status as the second largest Mac software developer behind Apple. Although it would inevitably relinquish that title in the years that followed, the group today still bills itself as "one of the largest dedicated Mac software development organizations outside of Apple."

It's believed the Mac BU currently employs around 180 people whose products — including Office, Messenger, and Remote Desktop Client — combine to generate over $350 million in revenues each year.

Readers interested in additional history of Microsoft's relationship with Apple, as well as the origins of Office for Mac, are encouraged to check out AppleInsider's recent six-part series: Road to Office 2008.