Mink Machine

Safari for Windows

Today, the WWDC 2007 was held in San Francisco and the keynote was delivered by Steve Jobs. I followed the transcript live by MacRumors thanks to a blogger in the audience, and afterwards the keynote was made available as Quicktime stream (check it out, and don’t miss the blunt Ballmer bashing).

Naturally, there was a lot of talk about Leopard, the upcoming version of Mac OS X, as well as iPhone which will be released on June 29th. Cool but predictable. The one thing that really woke me up was this:

The Safari browser is now available for Windows in a beta version.

Unlike some, I had no trouble with the installation and Safari worked perfectly on my Windows machine. In fact, it runs quite fast.

Apart from the expected annoyance of bundled installation of QuickTime, as usual with Apple products, I have a few issues. Most say the interface is slick and stylish, but to me the user interface feels like Netscape anno 1998. Naturally my eyes are affected by all other Windows applications I run simultaneously, but still. Since it is being run on Windows, the GUI inevitable get compared to the other GUIs on screen. I have no deep love for Windows GUI style either, but I’m a big believer in design consistency. It feels like the Safari team has gone go extreme lengths to make the Windows version identical in look and feel to the Mac version. Even the typeface feels like you’re running a Mac, until you press Alt-Tab. We all love brushed metallic, but now it feels like cramming a Porsche into a parking lot filled with Volvos.

Safari screenshot Mink Machine rendered in Safari browser.

How does it differ from the Apple version? And I don’t mean the interface and features, but rather standards compliance and CSS rendering under the hood using same WebKit as the Apple version. Haven’t seen any closer inspection yet, which is understandable since it was released two hours ago, but it will be interesting to make a comparison in the near future.

Personally, I won’t jump over the fence in the predictable future. I love my iPod and loathe my iTunes. Safari is firmly placed somewhere in between those extremes, but it will be handy for previewing front end code in yet another browser on Windows.

Nevertheless, if you are a web developer in any possible way, I strongly urge you to download the beta and take a look right now.

Update: It didn’t take long before people found a possible exploitable bug.

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11 comments

  • avatar
    Mandus
    12 Jun, 2007

    Seems like you can download without getting QuickTime now.
    The GUI looks quite nice to me, perhaps a bit too much of a business look. But compared to other Vista programs it’s a bit more sophisticated and sleek.

  • avatar
    12 Jun, 2007

    Thanks for the QT info!
    It’s kind of strange that I react so strongly on the GUI, considering that Vista has stolen so many graphical elements from Mac OS. :)

  • avatar
    Mandus
    12 Jun, 2007

    Maybe, but I can see your point about it being a bit old fashioned.
    Anyway, a good thing is that you won’t confuse it with IE or FF. :)

  • avatar
    13 Jun, 2007

    Hehe, that is true!

  • avatar
    13 Jun, 2007

    May whoever invented the brushed metal look always be reborn and never reach Nirvana! If it is something I hate about my Mac, then it is the metal look. Why they “ported” that to Windows in iTunes and now Safari is beyond me.
    Neither do I understand why they ported Safari to Windows? iTunes I can understand, as it is “bundled” with the iPod, but Safari? They will never make money on the browser so they have to cover the developing and maintenance costs in some other way – someone that has heard of a plausible theory? Are they counting on that most people only uses the web browser and hence is easier to lure into the Mac world if they can use the same browser after the switch?

  • avatar
    13 Jun, 2007

    Could it be Apple’s way to get developers to create web applications for the iPhone? Not likely, since there is no way that Safari will have enough users when the iPhone is released.
    I would rather believe that Safari is part of Apple’s longtime strategy to infiltrate the Windows platform. Both Parallels and Boot Camp are great tools for running Windows on a Mac and they will continue to persuade PC owners into making “the switch”.
    Also, don’t forget that they totally own the MP3 player market with iPod, which sort of requires iTunes, which may install bundled QuickTime, Safari and other stuff as well as silently setting default browser to Safari. Sneaky.

  • avatar
    Mandus
    13 Jun, 2007

    I think it’s a matter of branding and getting more and increasing the casual Windows-users awareness of the Apple platform.
    Just as Reine said above, just wanted to reassure him that he got it right. :P

  • avatar
    Bollman
    16 Jun, 2007

    It’s not far fetched to think that in some way, iPhone might require Safari. So far, it seems like iTunes will be needed to use the iPhone, there’s also talk about it being a requirement to get a iTMS-account.
    No money will be made from iTunes or Safari on the windows platform. Of course, making the transition easy for “switchers” is one thing.
    Apple may also be heading in the way of a pure software company.
    It may not be too far off to see OSX run on any PC, it’s only the EFI that keeps them apart now.
    It’s also interesting t osee that Safari 3 still uses the “brushed metal”-look as it has been rumors about it being replaced for 10.5.
    //Bollman – installing OpenStep 4.2 in his Parallels Desktop :-D

  • avatar
    16 Jun, 2007

    Thanks for sharing! It seems that Safari is more than just required. In the keynote, Jobs mentioned that Safari is the application platform for the iPhone, so there won’t be any need for learning yet another SDK. Instead it’s up to the developers to create solid web sites using web standards. The touch screen will be an interesting interface to watch for accessibility issues.

  • avatar
    Bollman
    16 Jun, 2007

    Well, you’re welcome! ;-)
    I’m not too impressed by the iPhone as of yet, we’ll see when I’ve had the chance to try it out. Basing all third party applications on the webkit means that there will be less “hardcore” apps available. No TomTom and so on. Apple already offers something like that but based on google maps, online! Sure, it’s cool but hardly useful when you’re abroad. GPRS-data can be quite expensive and downloading large google-maps via GPRS won’t be too fun either…
    I’m a little bit worried that when the iPhone actually hits the market it will have been surpassed by other phones. Maybe the interface weill be cool but locking in people to iTunes and Safari and not enabling the platform for third party applications like WM6 will be a big downside. The iPhone is also quite expensive which will be another minus. Sure, a lot of hardcore mac-users will buy it regardless and sure, some people with the urge to look cool will buy one. I recon you can get one cheap by the end of 2008 though as a lot of poeple will have lost interest ;-)

  • avatar
    17 Jun, 2007

    I’m also a bit concerned about the data transfer, both in terms of cost and availability.
    Since the iPhone has a wireless card in it, I suppose you could do some traditional leeching, but I hate the idea of searching for a hotspot just to check my cellphone calendar.

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Reine is a web developer who enjoys caffeine-fueled urban traveling. More...

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