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Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 09:20 am PT (12:20 pm ET)

Apple's Steve Jobs 'raged' at Steve Ballmer when Microsoft bought Halo

When Microsoft acquired Bungie, creator of the "Halo" franchise, to develop the flagship game for its first Xbox gaming console, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs reportedly made an angry phone call to Microsoft's Steve Ballmer.

"Halo" was first introduced as a game for the Mac, but all that changed when Microsoft purchased the developer, Bungie, in 2000 to make the game a launch title for its then-unreleased Xbox gaming console. The first Xbox was released in 2001, and the premier launch title, "Halo: Combat Evolved," was celebrated as a landmark achievement.

Prior to Microsoft's acquisition of Bungie, "Halo" was planned as a Mac game, just as Bungie's previous titles "Marathon," "Myth" and "Oni" were released for the platform. And Microsoft's deal was apparently enough to prompt a phone call from Jobs to Ballmer, according to Ed Fries, former vice president of game publishing at Microsoft.

In an interview with Develop, Fries revealed that Jobs called almost immediately after the Microsoft-Bungie deal was announced. The report said that Jobs "raged at Microsoft" over the acquisition.

"[Jobs] was mad at Ballmer and phoned him up and was angry because we'd just bought the premier Mac game developer and made them an Xbox developer," Fries said. He added that Ballmer told him to contact Jobs and "calm him down."

Microsoft attempted to placate Jobs' alleged unhappiness by making a new deal that would bring some other game titles to the Mac. The original "Halo: Combat Evolved," even made its way to the Mac years after it debuted on the Xbox.

"We did this deal with Apple where we'd port some PC games to the Macintosh and help [former Bungie vice president] Peter Tamte create this company to do it, and I had to go to a Mac developer conference and get on stage and talk about this whole new partnership," Fries reportedly said. "It was a pretty strange time."

Bungie may yet again make games for the Mac, as the company broke free of Microsoft in a deal that allows the Redmond, Wash., software giant to retain the rights to the Halo franchise. Brian Jarrard, franchising director at Bungie, said in 2007 that Mac games could be in the company's future.

"Now that we're branching off and controlling our destiny, that puts us in a position where we could put ourselves back on the [Mac] platform definitively again," he said.