Safari for Windows

Apple has opened up its Safari 3 beta program to Windows users.  The final release of Safari 3 will be available on both Windows and Mac OS 10.5 later this year.

Steve Jobs told developers at the WWDC keynote: “There are now more than 18 million Safari users. And if you look at Safari’s market share, it has climbed from 0 to 5 percent across the entire Internet.”  The top browser in terms of market share is of course Microsoft’s Internet Explorer with 78%.  Mozilla Firefox is comfortably sitting in second position with 15% and ‘other’ browsers are estimated to represent around 2%.  Jobs explained, “We want to grow, and in order to do that we have to create a version of Safari for Windows.”

It’s claimed that Safari (for Windows) renders pages 2 times faster than Internet Explorer 7 and up to 1.6 times faster than Firefox.  Safari is also said to process javascript almost three times faster than Microsoft’s offering.

The features offered aren’t bad; improved tabbed browsing takes some of the chaos out of modern Web surfing by allowing the tabs to be dragged and dropped in to a new order. The inline find highlights results making it easier to search than ever before. (The ‘find’ tool in Safari 2 is very poor. ) Design is, of course, very typical of Apple’s applications--simple, elegant and uncluttered.

Analysts believe that this move is not simply a bid to increase browser market share. It has been announced that third party developers will be able to develop iPhone applications running within its Safari browser.  Bringing Safari to Windows allows more developers to explore the browser and prepare for the iPhones’s imminent arrival.

There is always the possibility that bringing another Mac OS application over to Windows (don’t forget iTunes) is a way of slowly bringing consumers around to Apple’s way of thinking.  This could help to sway them towards Apple’s OS X as a serious mainstream alternative to Windows (running on ‘Standard’ PC hardware too?).  Let’s wait and see.