Safari on Windows a Reality After All

Several months ago, I posted an article suggesting that Apple should port Safari to Windows. Many disagreed with me, and I was lambasted on OSNews for the same. A few months later, here are are, and lo and behold, we are using Safari on Windows. I was partly right, my logic was mostly sound.

I suggested that Safari should exist for two reasons: firstly, that web developers could test their apps in Safari, and secondly, to lure more users into comfort with the Mac UI and Mac apps. So, score me 50%. There is one reason and one reason only for Safari on Windows – so developers can test their stuff in Safari. Now, it turns out it’s less for web sites and web apps than it is for iPhone development, but nonetheless, iPhone apps are, in fact, Safari apps. Thus, web developers can now test their sites in Safari, whether for iPhone or not.

The interesting thing here is that Apple is in a very unique position, and I hope they don’t pull a Microsoft. Apple can now introduce new proprietary hooks into their iPhone. Let’s say they “extend” javascript or CSS or even HTML itself. What if they invent tags like <iphone:dial> or <iphone:toAddressBook> or something that has unique function ignored by normal browsers but defined on the iPhone. I dread this, and yet, it would allow for rich, powerful applications without an SDK.

Assuming, or even ignoring that possibility, Safari on Windows does all Windows-based web developers to test their sites in Safari. I just installed Safari 3 on my Mac, and found it to be fantastic; it’s faster, it’s more compatible, and thus far, it’s a far better browsing experience. That said, on Windows is was a nightmare. It doesn’t play nice with dual-monitors, it doesn’t handle fonts well on my work computer (defaulting most fonts to “Metal Lord” font, odd choice) and crashing randomly. But then… it’s a beta and a first shot, and I bet most of these bugs are fixed.

Either way, I think this was a great move by Apple to establish themselves as serious about making the Mac a first class citizen for web browsing. Currently, it’s just not. There are several notable sites, like say, the MLS, which require IE. And there’s simply no IE for current Mac users. So this is great news all around, even for the Opera-ers, Firefoxers, and Camino-ers who use Macs.

I’m not feeling especially vindicated by this announcement, because I don’t think I spotted something so far fetched – I always felt Safari/Win was a good idea. But I am thrilled to see the seeds being planted for the Mac to be considered a legitimate, affordable, enjoyable contender as a computing platform for the general public.

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