Windows Invades Apple Developer Turf

Opinion: Sidestepping the new interface features in Mac OS X Leopard demonstrated during Steve Jobs' keynote address to ISVs at the company's developer conference, the most interesting move may center on Apple's new Windows browser and its implicat

SAN FRANCISCO—Yes, the colorful new stuff due in Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard," coming in the fall, was the main topic of Apple CEO Steve Jobs June 11 keynote address to the faithful software vendors (and press hacks) gathered here for the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. Still, Windows also made a surprise appearance at this Mac-centric event.

After a rundown of some 10 new features in Leopard, Jobs told the crowd that there was just "one more thing," which is a ritual in his keynotes. Todays encores were the iPhone development scheme and a version of Apples Safari browser for Microsoft Windows.

Jobs said Apple wants to boost the market share of its Safari browser, which comprises some 5 percent of Internet users.

"We dream big. We would love Safaris market share to grow," he said. But how would that be accomplished, he asked the crowd. With more than Mac users, of course, since the total installed base of Mac OS X is 22 million, Jobs related earlier.

The goal, shown in a pie chart in the presentation, appeared to be about 20 percent. In the address, Jobs said that Microsofts Internet Explorer has a 78 percent share and Firefox 15 percent.

Apples first step toward the goal is the beta release June 11 of Safari 3 for Windows XP and Vista, as well as for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Safari 3 will come standard with Leopard.

Jobs showed Safari running on Windows XP, pointing out its tabbed interface and built-in Google and Yahoo searching capabilities. He said it is the same technology for both Mac and PC platforms.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read what developers thought about the demonstration of Safari for Windows and the latest Mac OS X features.

He said Safari 3 will be the fastest browser on Windows. Jobs offered a side-by-side test of IE and Safari 3 running the iBench tests for HTML and JavaScript. In both tests, Safari was twice as fast as IE and 1.5 times faster than Firefox

"But how are we going to distribute this? I mean, we dont talk to these customers, do we? There are 500K downloads of Firefox a day—what are we going to do? Well, it turns out that there are over a million downloads on iTunes a day ... half a billion downloads to Windows machines. We know how to reach these customers, and were going to do exactly that," he said.

Here is a message we havent heard much from Apple before today (and an odd one to present to an audience of Mac developers). Its the new market reality: Apple is now a significant Windows developer. The iPod, iTunes and QuickTime are "standard" on an increasing share of PCs. And maybe Apples browser will gain some traction among some users, even in the enterprise.

The target is Firefox and the other Windows browsers that have a smaller following than Apples share with the Mac.

/zimages/3/28571.gifWhy is the Mac more secure than Windows? Click here to read more.

In a briefing with, Brian Croll, senior director of software product marketing, said Safari for Windows will appeal to corporate users looking for an alternative to Internet Explorer thats backed by a company.

"Apple is very heavily committed to it. Safari [3.0] is really fast, a standards-based browser thats elegant and easy to use. People will like it," Croll said.

On the surface, this move toward Windows appears to be about improving the lot for Mac users—and especially keeping happy the new "switchers," who have abandoned the PC platform.

Next Page: Keeping new OS X users happy.