Microsoft Corp. will stop developing versions of its Internet Explorer (IE) browser software for Macintosh computers, saying that Apple Computer Inc.'s Safari is now all that Apple needs.

Microsoft will no longer develop IE as independent software, only as part of its Windows OS (operating system). "Browsers are now a generally established piece of the OS and it doesn't make sense to keep developing them separately," said Microsoft U.K. desktop marketing manager Neil Laver.

Microsoft's development of IE for Apple's computers was driven by a five-year agreement that has now lapsed, Laver said.

The decision will cause concern for Mac users who use IE to access sites that are not accessible using other browsers. Many site developers develop purely for IE as it is the dominant browser worldwide.

Microsoft will continue to develop a version of its Office suite for Macs and its Virtual PC for Mac, Laver said. "We will definitely continue to support Internet standards," he said.

Apple was not immediately available for comment.