Safari on Windows? The real reason behind the new release.

Safari on Windows? The real reason behind the new release.

Summary: Steve Jobs says they want to expand their browser market share.Other's say that it will possibly work as a trojan horse to get people to buy more Macs.


Steve Jobs says they want to expand their browser market share.

Other's say that it will possibly work as a trojan horse to get people to buy more Macs.

While the first one will no doubt happen almost immediately, the second one is highly unlikely.

There are three other reasons why Apple went this path.

Internet Explorer for Mac was always a bit shady. It was obvious that more resources went into the Windows product than the Mac product, and that was understandable. But Mac users always felt frustrated that many sites that were written to work for IE, never did work on the Mac version. Crucial things like online banking were generally hit or miss.

Although many alternative browsers started to appear on the Mac over time, it was no doubt one of Apple's greatest fears that MS would drop IE support and leave them without access to the most popular browser in the world. If other browsers started to disappear from the platform as a whole, that would put Apple in a very dangerous position.

That fear is what likely drove Apple to create their own browser. Safari was a nice iteration for Mac users as it was more Mac-like, and Apple was able to tie the browser closer to the operating system at the same time. In addition, Safari provided Apple with a platform for the future.

The problem still has been that not all sites work with Safari. A long-time Safari user myself, last year I switched over to Firefox simply due to compatibility issues with blogging platforms, banking, etc. On top of that Safari, updates were few and far between in comparison to other browsers out there. And even though Safari had many great features that I loved, it was also a system hog that sometimes brought my machine to a crawl...and if you over taxed it, it would sometimes crash with no session restoration.

So at first I was a bit puzzled that Apple would release Safari on Windows, which with all the Window's-based malware and security issues, would suck more developer time from releasing Mac updates and might also overshadow the positive attention with negative.

I think it is ridiculous to think that a Windows version of Mac software will create new switchers. It just isn't going to happen. What will likely happen however are three things:

1. As Safari continues to be downloaded and grow in market share, we'll see more and more developers of web sites that will test their code to see that it complies and works with Safari. Good for Mac users...good for Apple. I don't think it is impossible to see Apple jump another 5-10% in browser market share in the next 6 months.

2. It might save Quicktime, Apple's slowly dying web streaming technology. While Apple might debate the dying aspect (given it travels with every version of iTunes), almost no site outside of Apple uses Quicktime anymore (I rarely see it) and there is no Windows Media support (MS killed it). Not to mention that flash has made some serious inroads on Apple's once strong web technology. But with better Quicktime integration into the Windows-based browser, we might see a new push to recapture lost Quicktime market share.

3. iPhone, iPhone, iPhone. We know that Apple is releasing a Safari/webdev kit so developers can develop web apps for their new phone. Why limit this to Mac developers? The phone is obviously designed to appeal to Mac and Windows users, so to ensure development for the phone on the Windows side, they need a platform to build on. Safari will no doubt be the major component that ties the phone and iTunes together, and we'll likely see an explosion of web app development this fall after the phone is released. Windows support is crucial to their long-term phone strategy and that is especially important when it comes to browsing. Just look at all the sites that are popping up to work with the Wii...I have no doubt in my mind we'll see lean and mean Safari sites for the iPhone.

One bit of advice for Apple.

Windows users aren't going to tolerate once a year Safari updates and Mac users won't appreciate Safari for Windows diluting developer time away from the Mac version. If you plan to support both platforms, you need to ensure that you release timely updates with new features more often.


Topics: Apple, Browser, Hardware, Mobility, Windows

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  • I installed it just to check out my homepage, etc. (eom)

  • apps

    Hopefully the iPhone webapp explosion will mean more and better apps for windows mobile too.
  • iPhone - OS X - Firefox - SUCKULAR

    Safari is not going to see more support because of iPhone.

    The reasons are obvious..
    1) Suckular--I mean cingular er AT&T.. er.. terrible GSM based garbage. It is the worst carrier in the US with the slowest connection, and the most unreliable signal. So.. iPhone will not work very well as a phone since nothing works very well on that network.. iPhone for CDMA would be a big improvement.. Verizon and Sprint obviously have the better technology, larger networks etc.

    2) Firefox works on both Windows and OS X... so why would you not install it on your iPhone which runs OS X if you are a windows user. I guess if you are crazy enough to buy a $600 GSM based dropped call waiting to happen... then maybe using Safari on windows might be an option?

    and secondly Safari will never compete in release time with Firefox.. Mozilla is a well oiled machine and the releases come out fast and furious. They are small and able to move quickly. Let's be honest, if a company with all the money on earth(Microsoft) can't keep up with is Apple going to do it?
    • Correction

      ---Firefox works on both Windows and OS X... so why would you not install it on your iPhone which runs OS X if you are a windows user.---

      Doesn't look like you'll be able to install 3rd party software on your $600 phone, so Safari is the only web browser you'll be able to access.
      tic swayback
    • Simple...

      > and secondly Safari will never compete in release time with
      Firefox.. Mozilla is a well oiled machine and the releases come
      out fast and furious. They are small and able to move quickly.
      Let's be honest, if a company with all the money on
      earth(Microsoft) can't keep up with is Apple
      going to do it?

      The answer is simple; because the real development of Safari is
      in KDE, using the same sort of development system as Mozilla.
      Just because Apple is stupid and doesn't release new versions
      very often doesn't mean that there aren't new versions being
      written, and considering Webkit is going to be PART of KDE4...
  • Google & YouTube video Uses QT

    I know you five guys at ZNET are trying to get to 100 negative Apple features in a row - good luck with that but you can make your points without veering into falsehoods. There's nothing wrong with taking a negative point on all things Apple - you are paid to have an educated opinion but we're not as dumb as you think we are. We will hear you out but don't veer off into Dvorak territory.
    • Google video uses Flash

      as does YouTube. I understand YouTube is redoing some of their stuff in QT for AppleTV support, but he's right; QT has been on the decline for a while.
      Considering the recent flock of security issues, I'm for it dying.
    • Um...

      I'm a 20 year Mac user who has 6 Macs in his as a Media center. So uh...don't EVER lump me in to Dvorak land. isn't a critique of Apple to say that Quicktime is dying. It is a fact that Quicktime use around the web has been on a decline for years. Flash has more market share than WMP or Quicktime.

      And one last thing...I WILL critique Apple when I feel they need it. They aren't perfect and make their fair share of mistakes fanboy. But if you go back and read this again...I said nothing negative about Apple and Quicktime other than it has been on a decline.
  • The rumors of Quicktime's demise are greatly exaggerated

    I'm not trying to take issue with the rest of your observations about Safari adoption, but either you misunderstand Quicktime or I missed your point.

    Specifically, I'm confused by the "slowly dying Quicktime" comments. Quicktime is a software architecture, container file format, and includes some Apple-specific codecs as well as a bazillion standards-based and cross-platform codecs.

    From a client point of view, every MPEG video (for example) is a "Quicktime video" as much as it is any other technology's video. You can use Quicktime as a one-stop solution for most formats, or you can use other client technologies on either Mac or Windows platforms. There are obviously more WMV-based libraries out there than QT-based libraries based purely on market share of platform deployments.

    Perhaps you mean you can't tell when a streaming server is using the Quicktime streaming architecture to deliver any of dozens of variations of standardized video formats to your web browser, regardless of client platform? Though I'm not sure how you know (at least casually) what the streaming server technology is built on? Perhaps there are good statistics on delivery mechanisms that are to the exclusion of Quicktime that you can cite here.

    Because QT is a layered architecture that includes strong authoring as well as streaming and playback support, it is the dominant foundation for authoring technology regardless of overall platform market share, so I don't think we can say "dying" here.

    If you mean "how often do you see .MOV file formats" then I can imagine you're right; in the modern day that is one of many file name extensions that imply a container file format - it's been years since MOV implied an Apple-specific codec like MooV was required. However, modern standards like H.264 or the myriad of MPEG standards ride in container architectures (containing video, audio, text, etc. tracks) that are almost all based on the Quicktime standard, without the .MOV extension.

    If you can clarify your point (or help me separate what you are trying to say from my understanding of QT technology), please give it a shot...
  • News Flash: ZDNet has gone Safari crazy

    ZDNet has gone rabid over the Safari release for Windows. Conspiracy theories abound on Jobs evil intent on owning Windows through porting Mac apps.

    Alan Graham seems to be the rare exception to the madness that has swept through ZDNet.

    When will the insanity end?
  • FInally someone gets it. Thank you.

    Wow, great to see a ZDNet blogger with some sort of grasp on reality. So many are posting paranoid wish-fulfillment scenarios where white knight Steve Jobs comes charging in to save their miserable Windows experience. Safari on the PC is not about Apple trying to make people switch, it's not a harbinger of Apple selling machines with Windows preloaded.

    It's about web developers and iPhone web app developers. That's it. End of story.

    Thanks for being the only one on ZDNet with a clue.
    tic swayback
  • Apple make a mistake on this

    I think that taking Safari to Windows was a good idea. Releasing a Public Beta was a good idea too... but a GOOD beta.. not this pieace of crap.

    I downloaded and played with it for about an hour, and during this time crashed at least a dozen times in differents tasks.

    It would be better to wait a few weeks to offer a good beta version than release such an insteable version. And the speed benchmarks that Steve Jobs anouced in his keynotes? at least in this beta version are completly inverted... my Firefox is at least 1.5 times faster than safari.

    Victor Espina
  • It's the same program.

    Windows Safari isn't a different program from the Mac Safari, the way IE for Mac was a
    radically different program from IE for Windows, so there's no problem with competing
    versions any more than there is with Firefox.
  • It's the 'Services' stupid

    Everyone knows Microsoft isn't going to play nice with Apple. So Apple has to give
    Windows users a consistent experience not just with the browser experience on the
    iPhone but also with Apple's suite of applications that companies will be rolling out
    as soon as Leopard services are released.

    As some ZDNet bloggers have commented: 'what's the big deal with another
    browser on Windows?'. The question is a good one, but they're missing the point.
    They're assuming that IE will do everything anyone on Windows will ever want to
    do. That's not the case. In fact, Steve Jobs is so obvious in his keynote, that it's a
    wonder how you ZDNet pundits miss the subtleties. Steve Jobs says that there's a
    distribution vector already in place for Safari for Windows known as iTunes.
    Microsoft doesn't play nice with iTunes either, but that doesn't matter because
    people have chosen iTunes over Microsoft's wishes. Now Apple has to extend other
    services to Windows users and again Microsoft isn't going to cooperate. No
    problem. Apple will Windows users 'yet another browser' that will play nice with
    their services.

    So the secret to Safari for Windows is in one word: Services.
  • Thanks to K-lite

    I have quicktime's codec without having to hassle with Quicktime.
    It also has Real's codec without Realplayer trying to call home every 5 mins.
    It bundles Windows media player 6.4 (rebuilt by Gabest under the GPU) Also a lot of other popular and rarer codecs.