Safari on Windows? Why?

WWDC 2007 LogoThis morning was Apple's WWDC Keynote, where Steve Jobs speaks to the world and a the thousands of the developers actually in the room. Because it's to the developers, it's always the more geeky and technological side of stuff. Last year they spent a lot of time looking at the new features of Leopard, which of course they did again this year.

Mac OS X Leopard, available in October, is certainly a nice upgrade to the already-popular Mac OS X line. Steve Jobs touted 10 new features, including a neatly redesigned dock that might convince power users to start using it. The new look of the desktop, somehow actually looks like it stole some of the ideas from Windows Vista, in my opinion. There's also a nice preview option called Quick Look which promises to be a bit faster than actually opening up a new program. Mac OS X Leopard DesktopHe did some amazing stuff with rendering a couple hundred movies at one time using the Core Animation system as well. And, finally, Mac OS X Leopard looks like an incredibly easy system to back up and move data between networked computers.

For me, though, the more interesting parts were after Steve said his famous "One more thing...." The two things here were both a bit of a disappointment during lunch hour while reading a live news feed, so I thought I'd wait a bit before writing a bit of a rant. But, after watching the full keynote myself, I'm still a bit mystified.

Steve Jobs announced the availability of a Beta version of Safari for Windows. The formerly-Mac-only browser, based on the open-source Konqueror engine, is known for being a fairly lightweight engine that adheres to web standards well. And, well, if you're looking for all that Apple shininess that you're used to from iTunes, now you can have it in your browser. But really, why? Steve Jobs said it's 1.6 times as fast as FireFox, another quality browser. I don't think that's reason to switch from a free, open-source browser to an Apple browser.

Safari for WindowsThe other big thing that Steve touted was that Apple has experience writing Windows apps. As someone who's still waiting for the money to buy a MacBook Pro and leave Windows, I can't help but contest that statement. Almost every time I close my iTunes, it crashes before closing. If I have iTunes open, another user on my Windows XP machine cannot open the program to listen to music. Steve, if you're letting your iTunes developers take vacations, they're selling you short. I did download Safari and it does let multiple users run the program at the same time, which is good.

Also, I have about 5 friends who live on the block who have MacBooks. Every single one uses FireFox and I've never seen them use Safari. If nobody on Mac uses this Apple product, why would anyone else use it? Sure, it looks nice, but it still doesn't look like it has half the features or extensibility of FireFox, the leading browser for persons who use the web constantly.

iPhone and AJAX, apparentlyThe second thing Steve announced was their "solution" (read: cop-out) for making apps for the Apple iPhone. You can use the powerful XHTML and JavaScript functionalities of the iPhone's built-in, full-featured Safari engine to make apps for the iPhone. (Steve used the buzzwords "Web 2.0" and "AJAX" instead of "XHTML" and "JavaScript", but it's the same difference.) OK, so the app they came up with worked nicely and did the basic integration with the other apps, but besides that, it was fairly boring. And although they touted that you can make it look just like the iPhone's interface, how did they do it? Were those contact list pages just basic unordered lists of information? Were they using a bunch of images to make those nice rounded corners and that search icon? It seems so, because they claim there's no SDK or API. So, have fun accessing the same "Web Apps" that you use on the Palm or BlackBerry. And, wait, what happened to "Web Standards" if we have to make a desktop version, a Palm version, a BlackBerry version, and an iPhone version of a web app? Sounds like 1998 wants its <blink> tag back with all that custom development.

Why do I want a real development system for the iPhone platform? Well, on my Palm-based phone I have open-source games, a third-party mail client that I love, a program with the entire Bible, and even an open-source SSH client. If I can't do that stuff on the iPhone, it's not the killer phone for me. Yeah, it might crash every so often, but I know that's my fault, not the phone. Of course, maybe if it is running full OS X, they can sneak a Terminal app in the interface somewhere so that I can administrate my servers remotely. If they do that, I'll probably go for it.

So how was this year's WWDC keynote? It was OK. Not what I was hoping for, for sure, but I suppose the real Mac fanboys are happy. I guess I'll find out the real story when I listen to MacBreak Weekly and TWiM tomorrow.



Elston, as far as TV goes, it sounded more like a telethon than a keynote.

Thanks for the Mac update. Saved me alot of time cuz i was busy giving my own Keynote.

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