Monday, June 11, 2007

Apple Previews Leopard & Safari 3 - O RLY?

I am writing this bog entry on Windows XP. I also happen to be writing it in Safari.

Seems Apple has seen fit to release a public beta of Safari 3.0 not just for Mac OS X Tiger, but for Windows as well. Not only that, the new version of the browser has resolved the two nagging issues that I had with it on OS X: The rich-text editing boxes on GMail and Blogger now work, and it now asks "Are You Sure?" when you close a window with multiple tabs open. Nice - Safari's been my browser of choice on the Mac for a while now (it's just much more responsive than Firefox) and those were really the only two annoyances I had with it. (Well, along with the fact that ver. 2 kinda chokes up when you start having 4 windows open, with 8 or so tabs each, and keep the program running for a week solid. Am I asking too much?)

I should stress that Safari 3 for Mac & Windows is still very much in beta. Blogger's rich text form works, but I had to go into Firefox to add the picture to this post because that button seems to do nothing in Safari 3 beta. So don't go dumping Firefox 2 or IE 7 just yet, (Although you might do well to dump IE 6 if you're still using it...) but this is definitely something to watch over the next few months.

It's really interesting to see Apple's strategy here. Since the awesome software (OS X and iLife being the biggies) are one of the big draws go getting a Mac these days, making Windows software doesn't seem to make much sense on the surface. However, the plan becomes clear when you realize Apple is trying to get people used to using Apple software first, so that the thought of switching to a Mac doesn't sound so foreign. it started with Quicktime, especially once Apple got something of a monopoly on movie trailers. Then iTunes for Windows came bundled with everyone's favorite music player. (iTunes is even more important to "switchers" now, since Apple's taken a lot of cues from it in the design of the file browser in OS X 10.5 - "Leopard"). Now they want Windows users to see what an Apple web browser is like, aguably the most-used application on a personal computer today. It's all quite clever really. Although, to be honest, if they're really serious about this Trojan horse idea, they really ought to do something about the performance of Quicktime 7 on Windows. QT-haters do have something of a point on the Windows platform - it's nowhere near as elegant, fast, and seamless as it is on OS X (where it's my default media player for just about everything - even DivX).

There's a lot of other interesting things happening with Leopard too - and they aren't all making front-page news like Time Machine and the just-maybe-do-you-think-inspired-by-Vista new look to the familiar Mac desktop. I'm more excited by the changes to Boot Camp. Today, if you have an Intel Mac, you can dual-boot Windows on it - something I'm very interested in, as it could mean putting all my Windows games on the same Mac I use for Final Cut Pro, and I could finally give up lugging my giant PC Tower to college. In Leopard, you don't have to totally restart to switch OS's: Instead you can go to a menu item in OS X to put MacOS into "safe sleep" mode before switching over to Windows. Likewise, you can make Windows hibernate. That way, you never lose what you were doing in either OS, and you can jump between them in 20-30 seconds - each running totally native (I could use something like Parallels to make it wholly seamless, but Boot Camp gives better performance for gaming).

Update: Boot Camp's hibernating feature was mentioned on Apple's site at the time I wrote this entry, but the feature was later dropped. Pity - seemed like a good idea.

The Mac platform just keeps getting more interesting.

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