The Mac platform is booming, shows a study from Microsoft’s Mac business unit and a leading US research company.

The research, into Macintosh market trends, shows that the Mac market boasts increased diversity, and is attracting more small business and consumer customers.

It also reveals that the Mac platform is becoming less reliant on the education and big business markets.

Compatibility, the study shows, is a major concern: 56 per cent of Apple users use both Macs and PCs; 81 per cent work in cross-platform environments; and 66 per cent of Mac Office 98 users share files with Windows users at least once a week.

Kinship between applications is also stressed as key. The report – co-authored by
Herbert Research – shows that 94 per cent of Mac people believe integration between applications is important.

A total of 47 per cent of users are also motivated to upgrade from Office 98, in order to enjoy both a more Mac-like interface and behaviour. Simplicity is important too, with 94 per cent of Macintosh users seeing ease-of-use as an important factor in the applications they use.

Using the report’s findings, Microsoft plans to develop innovations for its Macintosh software brands, and hopes to create more products for small business and the consumer.

The company has already made a commitment to supporting Mac OS X and also plans easier integration with Windows products.