Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Let the Apple Hacking Begin

I'm an old-school fan-boy of Apple's. I could (can, probably) tell you all about how a 6502 at 1Mhz is just as fast as a 4.77Mhz 8088. I can tell you about how your PC clone will melt down in the face of a IIgs' graphical superiority. I can still tell you that poke 44033,x (4<=x<=17) will change the catalog track of an Apple DOS 3.3 floppy. Hell, I still excited by little things like a 6502 Assembler in JavaScript.

Although I still occasionally forget that Wednesday is trash day.

Earlier this week, Apple released their Safari web browser for Windows. Their intent, of course, is to pick up some market share in the larger browser battles so that web developers start including Safari in their browser support matrices. As it stands, the lack of support has made even my Apple devotee wife switch over to Firefox on her Mac.

Her opinion on the switch? "Can [Apple] make it not suck on the Mac first?"

Personally, I'm ambivalent towards the whole thing. I use Firefox because it had tabs first and now I'm used to it. I've tried IE 7 and on the surface it doesn't appear to be terribly different than Firefox. In the end, I just want something that works. (Before the Linux Kids speak up, let it be known that I'm familiar with the topic.)

The Safari bit, however, has given me something to chuckle over. Steve Jobs was pleased to announce how Safari 3 would create a secure platform for development on the iPhone. Given Apple's track record on security, the claim was an invitation to the security community and boy have they had fun. Two 0day announcements on Safari 3 in the last 36 hours alone, and they aren't going to be the last. The community as a whole has especially been amused by the fact that the bugs are rooted in basic functionality that should have long been dealt with on the Mac version.

Can Apple fix it and make significant inroads? That remains to be seen. I believe that they need to make some cultural changes first, especially in the area of security. Namely, they need to establish a working policy for how to deal with the community and drop their aggressive stance. If Microsoft can make friends with the security community, Apple can too.

In addition to security issues, Apple is going to have to succumb to The Windows Way on some aspects of the user interface such as fonts. Windows users are used to a certain way of doing things and for them to adopt a new browser means you need to make the transition feel like they are going to something they are already familiar with.

In the end, these are not small cultural changes to overcome, but Apple has the history showing that it can make these kinds of changes can happen. In the meantime, I'm just hoping that they don't bundle Safari with iTunes. iTunes is painful enough and I really don't want another browser on my system.


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