Why Port Safari to Windows?

by Aaron Wright Jun 18, 2007

Last Monday at the WWDC, Steve Jobs announced Safari 3.0 was to be ported onto Windows XP and Vista with the hope of gaining further market share in the web browser department. Now everyone across the world who is even slightly interested in all this is questioning why Apple has done such a thing.

Jobs showed us that Safari 3.0 beats Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox hands down with regards to speed; he also claimed that the browser is the most innovative yet seen on the web, with Google and Yahoo search engines built right in. Apple’s aim is to gain further market share with its rather beautiful web browser, but in what way will the fruity technology giant benefit from this?

After all, Safari 3.0 is free, much like iTunes, so there is no direct revenue coming in from the people that use it. There are a number of possible reasons why Apple has decided to spend the time to port over Safari to Windows:

1. Simply put, they want to gain further market share and win over a few bragging rights. To be quite honest though, I don’t think Steve Jobs and his chums are that petty-minded, so perhaps reason 2 is a little more valid.

2. Apple wants Windows users to see a little more through the eyes of a Mac user by offering another piece of software, along with iTunes, for them to play about with. Hopefully by seeing how easy it is to use, how elegant it looks, and most importantly, how well it performs will entice users to switch over to the Mac platform in hope that all Apple software is that blissful to use. Of course, this doesn’t come without its risks. With Safari market share already quite high (given how low the Mac market share is), web developers have always been keen to test their sites on Apple’s browser, but the only way to accomplish this was to obtain a Mac. Now that Safari is on Windows, web developers running Windows will no longer need to fire up a Mac just to test their website, because Apple has given them all that they need.

3. Now we’re starting to get into more likely reasons as to why Apple ported over Safari. With iPhone arriving in a matter of days now, developers of Web 2.0 applications using Safari will be requiring the browser to test their products, especially given the fact that iPhone runs a full version of Safari. A perfect way to get more people developing software for the iPhone is to open up the development platform to the largest operating system in the world, Windows.

4. Revenue from Google and Yahoo searching. In the most popular web browsers available, such as Camino, Opera, and Firefox, you always see (usually in the top right hand corner) a Google, Yahoo, or other search engine field. A lot of people don’t realize that every time you use that box to search for something, you give Apple an extra “point” which Google, for example, acknowledges and offers a cash reward to Apple in the process, a.k.a revenue. If Safari is used by only 100 people on the Windows platform, that’s 100 people more than Apple is getting now by holding it out for the Mac platform only, and that’s 100 more people who are likely to use that search box from time to time to quickly access a popular search engine such as Google or Yahoo and increase Apple’s revenue. If Apple can expand their market share by using the Windows platform as a catalyst, they’ll surely gain a much higher income at the end of each year—clever, eh?

There’s a good chance that the above four reasons aren’t the only reasons Apple decided to move Safari over to Windows, but I bet you they’re some of the main ones, especially point 4.

Feel free to add your own opinions as to why Apple ported Safari over to Windows in the comments field below. Maybe I’m way off the mark with some of these or perhaps you think I’ve got it spot on; either way, don’t be afraid to let us know.


  • I’ll go with 3, with a light smattering of 4.  I believe the release of Safari for Windows has EVERYTHING to do with the iPhone.

    Dave Marsh had this to say on Jun 18, 2007 Posts: 44
  • All of the above.

    There are a lot of reasons floating around the internet for the reason to deliver Safari for Win.  I think that the iPhone may have pushed the timing up a bit, but it is the combination of all the noted reasons that made it a compelling combination of reasons to release the app.

    MacKen had this to say on Jun 18, 2007 Posts: 88
  • web developers have always been keen to test their sites on Apple’s browser

    Ha!  This made me laugh since I know quite a bit about developers and browser testing. No developer is keen to test a site on yet another browser. smile

    That said, I think this was a pretty smart move on Jobs part. Firefox testing has become fairly standard for most web development companies (while Safari has not). When Safari on Windows reaches an installed base similar to Firefox, we’ll see a lot more web compatibility for Mac users because more developers will be forced to make their sites compatible.

    How many times have you heard the complaint that some online banking or similar site doesn’t support Safari?  This will slowly become a thing of the past.

    In addition to the iPhone, I think this may have also been a motivating factor.

    vb_baysider had this to say on Jun 18, 2007 Posts: 243
  • The real question is: Why not port Safari to Windows?

    Digging underneath all the marketing hoopla, as you’ve stated wisely, the real reason Safari 3 public beta is to entrench the Quicktime platform on   the Windows architecture, plain and simple.

    The Quicktime platform, mind you, is now more ubiquitous than MSFT’s .Net 3 API (in Vista) with north of 300 million downloads.

    Safari is more than a Trojan Horse, as some pundits and bloggers think, to sway switchers from the Windows camp.

    No, Apple is carefully establishing their own Quicktime platform as the next de facto development platform for Windows and OSX (note that I omitted the word “Mac”).

    In the same context, then why not port iPhoto to Windows? Believe it or not, you might get your wishes soon enough.


    Robomac had this to say on Jun 18, 2007 Posts: 846
  • The one and only motivating factor is the iPhone.  Without the iPod, there would be no iTunes on Windows, and without the iPhone, there would be no Safari on Windows.

    I know Steve Jobs is a master super genius who can shoot flowers from his finger tips and heal the sick and dying with but a touch of his magic brain, but c’mon.  There is no master plan here.  It’s about the iPhone.  Period.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jun 18, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Perhaps it would be way too difficult to develop Mac OS X apps for the iPhone on Windows based machines and Apple wanted to create an outlet that interfaced easily with OS X while providing ease of use during the development process.

    Tanner Godarzi had this to say on Jun 18, 2007 Posts: 70
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