34 Comments

Summary:

When Microsoft embedded Internet Explorer with Windows, it was an obvious anti-competetive move intended to thwart the growth of the Netscape browser and benefit from the company’s operating system monopoly. The tactic worked, helping to send Netscape into a death-spiral. But if you think about it, […]

When Microsoft embedded Internet Explorer with Windows, it was an obvious anti-competetive move intended to thwart the growth of the Netscape browser and benefit from the company’s operating system monopoly. The tactic worked, helping to send Netscape into a death-spiral. But if you think about it, years after the dust has settled, and the court cases are history, it wasn’t a bad idea after all, to marry the browser with the desktop experience. And Apple has all the tools to do it themselves, the right way, without raising the ire of the legal system.

The WebKit engine underlying Safari also powers both Apple applications, including Mail, and many third party apps, like BareBones’ BBEdit. The next logical step, in my mind, is to WebKit-enable the Finder, letting me type in a URL, search Google, or access my bookmarks directly from my desktop, without having to open Safari. We can already see similar functionality with how you can play MP3 files within the finder without opening iTunes or view photos without opening iPhoto.

newfinder_400
Click to See One Mockup of a Safari-Enabled Finder

There’s no good reason that I can type a URL in Windows to open a Web site immediately, and my Mac won’t give me the same option. And Apple’s low market share may actually give the company an advantage when competitive questions are raised. I’ve attached a quick mockup with one way today’s Finder (pre-Leopard) would look with embedded URL entry and bookmark access. What’s holding Apple back? Wouldn’t this be a useful feature?

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  1. Tim Hettler Monday, June 25, 2007

    I don’t think eliminating one mouse-click is worth the potential security risk of incorporating WebKit to the OS.

  2. Considering 90% + of Windows malware gets into the system due to the close integration of Explorer with the OS core, Apple’s following suit would be a mistake of MASSIVE proportions.

  3. Michael May Monday, June 25, 2007

    ewwwwwwww. no. nonononono.

  4. There is the malware concern raised by an earlier poster.

    From the user experience perspective, the integration of safari and finder to be the same thing blurs the distinction between a web page and a folder on the system. As we have seen on Windows, this blurring results in users not distinguishing between a web page and what is on their system. The resulting confusion is problematic.

    In principle, there is no reason why the Finder address bar could not be extended to be aware of Safari. That is, if the user types a web address into the Finder, then the Finder launches Safari to open the web page.

    But to a large extent, I think that integration of Safari into Finder is a solution looking for a problem. With the additional drawback that this “solution” introduces user experience issues and possibly opens malware holes.

  5. Twisted Intellect Monday, June 25, 2007

    I think I prefer the Finder to Microsoft Explorer, thank you very much..

    The good thing about Apple apps, is that they tend to do one thing, and do it well… Not only are there severe security-implications of integrating WebKit into the OS, you’d also end up with an app that potentially would end up trying to do too much, and fail at it all…

    (See: Windows File Explorer)

  6. Finder is for the OS and Safari and WebKit for the internet…

    and I don’t think it will be safe and great to be as idiot as Microsoft is !

    You are saying : “But if you think about it, years after the dust has settled, and the court cases are history, it wasn’t a bad idea after all, to marry the browser with the desktop experience.” Personally, I cannot say that (I’d rather say : “It’s the worst idea they (Microsoft) had maybe with the one of using bad photocopiers!”)

    I feel a lot more secure with OS X than I felt with Windows!
    Thanks a lot again, Apple to have made OS X as it is and not as some poorly minded people would want to have it!

  7. The whole issue against IE and OS integration is the fact that if IE is breached so is the entire OS.

    Webkit and Finder would mean exactly the same thing. BAD BAD MOVE.

    And by your argument why not just stick iPhoto and iWeb into it too, integration is a good thing when apps talk to each other, but not necessarily combining things for the hell of it.

  8. Why not?

    Because we aren’t Windoze and don’t want to be.

    And Safari isn’t the best at everything, so why foist it on the rest of the OS?

    We have enough problems with Apple trying to unify Leopard with an iTunes interface – which we don’t need. Safari-fying would be equally bad.

  9. You know, I think that this is actually a very good idea. It would also mean that there is only one codebase to work from which would mean more developers to work on the product. Unfortunately it will not happen though.

  10. Safari, including 3.0 beta, is the most bug-filled application I run regularly. It has so many memory leaks, I have to close and restart it several times a day. And it crashes more than any other application I use.

    Building Safari into the Finder would be a foolish idea. Safari needs to be fixed not integrated, where its problems cause other problems.

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