Some of you may have heard that Apple Inc. (Formerly Apple Computer, Inc.) released the Apple Safari web browser for Windows last week. Many of you may not care. I'm not sure exactly where I fit in. CNET's Rafe Needleman wrote a blog entry titled "Mac Apps On Windows Suck. Here's Why". I'm not sure that I agree with all of his conclusions.
With the Apple iPhone due for release soon, the announcement of Safari for Windows shocked a lot of people. Many developers and gadget geeks salivating over the iPhone had been hoping for an SDK (Software Development Kit) in order to produce applications for the iPhone. If you've ever used a Pocket PC, you know that third party applications are practically salvation. Pocket Outlook is minimally useful, but Pocket Informant is a wonderful excursion into the world of mobile productivity. WebIS Flexmail 2007 is also a wonderful replacement for Pocket Outlook's email functionality. I don't know many Apple people, but I do know that like Windows, sooner or later you'll need a third party application to get things done. As the iPhone runs Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, I'm sure it will need more applications. However, Steve Jobs (and I'm sure others, but Steve is the public figure) have decided to make the iPhone a closed platform. As I understand things, there will be ways to write applets through Safari, but that is the extent of development capability on this platform.
And so, millions of geeks are upset. I was sort of apathetic to this announcement. I don't intend to buy an iPhone right now. The announcement of Safari for Windows excited me about as much as, say, Outlook Express for the Mac. Oh, wait, my Macs do have Outlook Express. At least, my iMac does. I downloaded Safari on my work computer just to test it out, but for the most part I'm sticking with Firefox for the time being because the available extensions allow a great deal of customizability. Opera is nice, but Firefox meets my needs so I see little reason to use Opera, and IE7 needs a session manager for me to take it more seriously. I am spoiled with Firefox because when my system crashes, I can pick up exactly where I left off. If I have 50 tabs open and half of them are partway through a long article, I won't miss a beat. If IE7 crashes with two tabs open, I'm hosed.
However, I don't see the platforms through eyes of zeal. I have settled on Windows XP as my main OS for the time being because of all the tools available, Windows XP does what I need it to do the best. The programs that I use run best on Windows XP, I don't have to buy any new hardware, and of course it is well supported and established.
As far as tools go, I differ in my opinion of iTunes from Rafe Needleman. I actually think that iTunes is a fairly decent media manager. Actually, my favorite feature is the podcatcher. I really don't care for Microsoft's digital media implementation. I believe that their target market is the gyrating silhouettes from the iPod commercials a few years ago. Windows Media Player 11 is decent, but has no podcasting capability. I download several podcasts, and iTunes does a wonderful job of managing them. Ever since I got my video iPod, I've come to appreciate iTunes even more and I've digitized the better songs from my CD collection to sync with the iPod to listen to when my wife is in the car with me. Now, if a better iPod sync/media utility comes along, I'll happily try it out. For now, I'm content with iTunes.
Linux is a fine platform, but I have written it off for the time being. The software that I use and have come to depend on runs on Windows, and finding replacements or figuring out a new workflow just takes too much time on the two other platforms. Actually, I would love to play with Mac OS X more, but the hard drive on my iBook apparently crashed, and I don't have the time to take the thing apart again, swap the hard drive into a PC laptop, and use a Windows XP disk to check the hard drive. Mac OS X Tiger doesn't ship with much in the way of hard drive utilities.
In any case, if you're into Safari, check it out for Windows. If you're not, don't sweat it. Firefox will probably remain the undisputed champ of Windows browsers (and Mac and Linux) for a while.