Beware Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera.
So I guess today is going to be WWDC roundup day… well it’s not like Steve Jobs didn’t pull his usual bunnies out of tombolas…
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the keynote is actually the most simple: Apple has decided to make its Mac OS Safari web browser available on Windows PCs.
In typical (or, at least, pre-iPhone typical) Apple style ‘Safari 3’ is immediately available in beta form and comes fuelled with all kinds of blazing Apple statistics. Most interesting among them is that Apple claims the browser loads pages up to 2x faster than IE7 and 1.6x faster than Firefox while Java execution is promoted as 2.8x faster than IE7 and 1.6x faster than Firefox. Note: all benchmarks were gained using iBench 5.0 on an iMac running Windows XP so expect Microsoft to quickly sing a different tune based on alternative testing equipment.
More importantly than this however is the obvious motivation behind Apple’s move here: iPhone interoperability. As well publicised the iPhone uses a full version of Safari for all web surfing so familiarising the billions of Windows users out there with such a key aspect of the phone prior to launch makes a lot of sense. It also brings a aura of completeness and universality to the product given the pre-established dominance of iTunes across both platforms.
Finally, it can’t hurt Apple either to enlarge its piece of the browser pie, something which is sure to happen when you suddenly launch such a well known product onto a platform which operates on roughly 95 per cent of the world’s computers.
Of course, the big question as far as the common user goes is much more straightforward: is Safari any good? For me the answer is yes and no. Safari’s responsive feel means I would use it over Internet Explorer any day of the week, but the open source nature of Firefox and my attachment to its huge array of third party add-ons (some of which now feel utterly indispensible) means I won’t be abandoning Mozilla’s creation anytime soon…
Still, smart move Apple.
Safari 3 For Windows