By some metrics, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s saving investment into Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) could be seen by some as being a nail in the company’s coffin. But it depends on how you look at it. At the time, the investment made perfect sense to Microsoft, but as Roben Farzad of Bloomberg Businessweek reports, it’s easy to see why so many people now see it as possibly the worst deal of all time.

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Microsoft gave Apple help

In August 1997, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) threw the failing Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) a bone in the form of a $150 million investment. At the time, Apple was just weeks away from filing for bankruptcy. That investment was less of a goodwill gesture and more of a way for Microsoft to cover its butt, so to speak. The company wanted to keep Apple’s competing operating system afloat in order to dodge antitrust allegations.

It was a risky gamble which did eventually pay off for Microsoft, at least in terms of direct money from the investment. The company did get a nice profit later when it sold its stake in Apple. But at the time Microsoft helped Apple, Apple was pretty damaged. It was that loan, however, which enabled Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to consolidate its Mac business and then pour cash into the iPod and iTunes. The loan also enabled Apple to get a leg up on Microsoft in key markets today.

Apple turns things around, thanks to Microsoft

Today Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) struggles to catch up to Apple in the smartphone and tablet industries. It never did make any progress in the MP3 player market. So should Microsoft have saved Apple? If it hadn’t, we probably wouldn’t have the iPhone.

But does one have to die in order for the other to exist? It’s true that Microsoft is going to need to make some changes so that it doesn’t suffer the near-death experience Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had. However, there is certainly room for both of them in the marketplace. Microsoft has its hands in so many different areas the company probably isn’t in trouble of going anywhere soon. However, it stands at a turning point right now. Investors are calling for a resurrection, and depending on who the next CEO ends up being, we could see some big changes at Microsoft. But then again, we might not if the company doesn’t choose wisely.