“Despite the years of acrimony, the new alliance seems to fit the needs of both parties. Digital music will likely be an early area for cooperation. Apple Computer and RealNetworks have already charged into the market for online music delivery. Microsoft has a stellar record for selling products to middlemen such as PC makers, but a weak one for selling straight to consumers. With AOL, Microsoft can worry about building the back-end software and leave the marketing and artist issues to AOL. Similarly, AOL won’t have to worry about corralling software developers anymore. Agreeing to iron out the kinks in instant messaging interoperability also will help allow the technology to proliferate,” wries Michael Kanellos in a commentray for CNET News.

“Most likely, this week’s agreement won’t mark the beginning of a new dynasty of cooperation. In 1996, then-AOL Chairman Steve Case and then-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates decided to drop a dispute and team up together on the desktop. AOL subscriptions grew and Internet Explorer began to eat away at Netscape’s share. The cooperation lasted less than two years. Still, for the time being, the deal made sense. So far, this latest agreement does, too,” Kanellos concludes here.

Why does this matter to Mac users? Read our article on the threat this alliance poses to AAC here. Also, we wonder if iChat will continue to be able to chat AIM clients or not?