Is Apple about to make a deal with the devil (Microsoft)?

Since the dawn of the modern PC era, Apple and Microsoft have had the type of love-hate relationship that was almost completely missing out on the love part of that equation. But any thinking the relationship was totally devoid of love only need look back to 1997 when Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple, giving the company a much needed injection of cash and Microsoft a cloak of protection from anti-trust litigation.

Flash forward to today and Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, believes Apple and Microsoft are on the verge of announcing another partnership at the upcoming Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. The partnership would bring Visual Studio 2010 to the iPhone, iPad and Mac OS development table.

And just like in 1997, it might keep anti-trust complaints at bay.

Truth or fiction? There are always plenty of rumors circulating around before any Apple announcement, which mostly turn out false. So I wouldn’t bank on Visual Studio 2010 becoming Apple-compatible just yet. If Visual Studio 2010 does gain the ability to write applications for the iPhone and iPad, I wouldn’t expect it to also gain the ability to write apps for the Mac. That would mean either Visual Studio running on the Mac or OS X running on a virtual machine inside of Windows — both of which are a big step up from porting the iPhone simulator to the Windows environment.

Does the announcement conflict with what Steve Jobs was saying about third-party tools not being welcome for iPhone development? Not so much. So long as Visual Studio could compile native iPhone and iPad apps and would support the released iPhone SDKs, it wouldn’t really be an extra layer between the developer and the platform. It would simply be an alternative to Xcode.

But I wouldn’t hold my breath. It would make more sense for Apple to partner up with a company like Torque and use their iPhone development tools as an example rather than make a deal with Microsoft. But who knows? Steve Jobs has already said we won’t come away from the upcoming conference disappointed.