Apple Springs Safari Surprise

SAN FRANCISCO — With its developer resources focused on getting the
iPhone ready and finishing the next version of the Mac operating system, no
one expected many surprises here at the opening of Apple’s Worldwide
Developer’s Conference (WWDC).

But then, Steve Jobs is not one to waste his stage presence rehashing old news. The Apple CEO didn’t disappoint, with Safari (the Mac browser is now available for Windows) and iPhone announcements to
round out his preview of the Leopard operating system due in October.

Initially previewed
last August, Leopard was supposed to have shipped this spring. Then in April, the company pushed it till October to finish the iPhone in time for its June 29 release.

Jobs trumpeted a total of 300 new Leopard features and highlighted 10 of them. And developers at WWDC, which is off-limits to press save for the keynote, were given a full working beta of the new OS.

Some of the features underscore Apple’s penchant for attention to detail
and style.

The new dock for accessing files has a nifty 3-D look. “Stacks”
drew a loud chorus of “oooooooooooh” from the audience. One click on an icon
in the dock launches a stack of readily accessible files. There is
also a new Downloads folder as a convenient location for all Internet
downloads to be automatically placed on the desktop.

Leopard Screen
Click on the graphic for a view of Leopard

Quick Look lets you preview files without opening the
associated application. But it’s more than a cursory look; you can preview
pages of a PDF document, Excel spreadsheet, Word document and other
formats. You can even preview a movie file.

Attendees also got a more in-depth look at Time Machine, which Jobs also covered at last year’s event. He showed how Quick Look
works with Time Machine to gain quick access to a file’s content so you can
figure out if it’s the one you’re looking for.

Jobs also touted Leopard’s full native 64-bit support, which he said
will make it the first mainstream 64-bit  operating
system. Windows has a separate 64-bit version. The standard version of
Leopard will run both 32-bit and 64-bit apps, the latter of which can hold
more far more data in memory so it’s of particular benefit to high end photo
and animation applications.

After Jobs announced Leopard’s $129 price, there were a few gasps in the
crowd when he started to say there would also be a premium version.
Microsoft offers multiple versions of Vista at different price points. The
gasps soon turned to laughter as it was clear Jobs was poking fun at
Microsoft and there’d only be one version.

“The premium version is $129, the business version is $129, the
enterprise version is $129 and the ultimate version is $129,” he said. “We
think most users will want the ultimate version.”

Jobs didn’t leave it at Leopard. He also announced that Safari 3, the latest version of the company’s Web browser for the Mac,
is now also available as a free
public beta for Windows users. It will be included as part of the Leopard OS
when it ships.

Although Apple is offering Safari for the same price as Internet Explorer
and Firefox — i.e. free — the move is another weapon in Apple’s fight to win
over PC users by exposing them to Macintosh software. Jobs specifically
touted Safari’s speed as twice as fast as Internet Explorer, which he demoed
using standard HTML benchmarks. He said the Mac-only version of Safari has
about 5 percent of the market among Internet users worldwide.

“We dream big,” said Jobs. “We want to grow, so we need a version that
runs Windows.”

Analyst Tim Bajarin said the Safari news was a surprise but fits with
Apple’s strategy of reaching out to Windows users. “It expands on the reach
Apple already has with iTunes for Windows,” Bajarin told
internetnews.com.

Jobs noted that Firefox boasts about 500,000 downloads a day, but Apple
gets about a million downloads a day of iTunes for Windows. “So we know how
to reach those customers,” said Jobs.

The other big news was that Apple, after a bit of hedging earlier,
said that developers will be able to make applications for theiPhone due
June 29.

Jobs said developers can create Web 2.0 applications
that look and behave just like the applications built into iPhone, and
that can seamlessly access iPhone’s services, such as making a phone call,
sending an e-mail and displaying a location in Google Maps.

“There’s no SDK
 needed; if you know how to write applications for modern
Web standards, you can go live [on the iPhone] on June 29.”

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