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Apple unveils own Web browser

Speaking to the Apple faithful at Macworld Tuesday, CEO Steve Jobs announced a new Web browser to replace Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and new notebook computers, including one with a 17-inch screen.
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Hordes of Apple faithful were on hand Tuesday for another of CEO Steve Jobs’ revival meetings, again disguised as the keynote address at the Macworld exposition in San Francisco. And Jobs didn’t disappoint, telling his flock of a new Web browser, an open-source presentation program plus a pair of new notebook computers, including the first one ever to have a 17-inch screen.

InsertArt(1748544)THE BIGGEST NEWS on the software front was the announcement of two new programs which will directly compete with Microsoft software that handle similar tasks.

Safari is Apple’s new turbo-charged Web browser for OS X (the current version of which Jobs continues to pronounce “Jag-wire” instead of Jaguar). Safari looks very, very fast; Jobs claimed it was three times faster than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for OS X.

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Safari is based on the KHTML open-source rendering engine. Jobs said it has been greatly improved and Apple will post the newly-improved code for downloading to keep it open source. Apple has integrated Google into the browser’s toolbar and has made managing bookmarks a breeze. A beta version of Safari is now available on the Apple Web site for free. At this time, Safari only runs on OS X.

While announcing an extension of the Apple-Microsoft deal that lets purchasers of new Mac hardware buy Office for OS X for only $199, the Apple CEO also announced new software that will compete with one part of Office. Keynote, Apple’s all-new presentation title, is available now and sells for $99.

Jobs added that he’s been beta testing Keynote, creating his own Macworld presentations with the program for the past year.

YEAR OF THE NOTEBOOK’With desktop computer sales drooping in recent months, Apple is turning its attention to notebooks. Jobs announced two new portables to his loving listeners and said he thinks more and more people will be replacing their desktops with notebooks in the near future.

First, the 17-inch Powerbook. It boasts the same landscape screen from the 17-inch iMac with improved backlighting, creating a 1-inch thick computer. Its powered by 1 GHz G4 chip with 512 MB DDR memory and 1 MB L3 cache. It comes standard with a 60 GB hard drive, GeForce 440 video card with 64 MB of video memory, a Superdrive, Gigabit Ethernet, Firewire 800 (twice as fast as the old Firewire or USB 2) and a PC card slot. The laptop has a 4.5 hour battery life from its lithium prismatic battery and on the wireless front, includes built-in Bluetooth and Airport Extreme, Apple’s implementation of the new 802.11g wireless Ethernet standard.

This amazing looking portable is made out of an aluminum alloy for super strength and low weight, just 6.8 pounds. But prepare to spend some cash: The laptop will sell for $3299 along with a free copy of QuickBooks Pro; it will start shipping in February. Apple will also continue to sell its existing high-end Titanium notebook.

Jobs also announced a new 12-inch screen Powerbook, that comes with an 867 MHz G4 chip (all new Apple laptops will have G4 chips), GeForce 420 with 32 MB of video memory, a Combo drive, built-in Bluetooth (Airport Extreme card is $99 additional) and 5 hours of battery life. The new notebook weighs 4.6 pounds and will sell for $1799 (Quick Books Pro included.)

Also new on the hardware front is the 802.11g Airport Extreme base station, which allows for wireless bridging. Buy two and they talk to each other, providing seamless coverage in your home or office, something I’ve been longing for. There’s also USB printing (connect a USB printer to your Airport and all networked computers can print from it). Cost: $199.

DIGITAL UPGRADES Apple is now combining their 4 digital lifestyle programs into one new super digital hub application now called iLife. ITunes 3, iPhoto 2 (with a neat one-click photo enhance feature), iMovie (with new “Ken Burns” effects) and iDVD 3 all now interact to allow each to use the others’ features. iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie remain free for downloading (newest version available Jan. 25) or bundled with iDVD for $49. There is also a new “lite” version of Apple’s video editing suite called Final Cut Express. At $299, it boasts most of the features of Final Cut Pro at less than one-third the price.

Jobs also talked about two products released shortly before Macworld: iCal 1.0.2, an update of Apple’s interactive calendar program iCal 1.0.2, and iSync 1.0, for synching personal information with computers, PDAs, cellular phones and the iPod.

Speaking of the iPod, Jobs announced they’ve sold 600,000 of the digital music player in 14 months. He made a point of saying it’s especially popular in Japan, where it has a 42 percent market share. There’s also a cool new accessory, a $499 ski/snowboarding jacket with iPod controls built into the sleeve. The jacket, made by Burton, is a limited edition and is only available directly from Apple at its Web site..

Jobs began his speech by highlighting Apple’s progress on many fronts. Apple’s “switch” program to attract new Mac users has brought 7.8 million Web surfers to the program’s Web site, he said, and 50 percent of new computer sales at Apple’s stores have been to people switching from Windows.

As for OS X, which has come under fire for a slow adaption rate, Jobs said there were now 5 million users of the new operating system and that he expected there to be up to 5 million additional users added in 2003.

The next Macworld is scheduled for later this year, but Apple may not be there. The people who own the show have announced they’re moving it from New York to Boston — against Apple’s wishes — so it might be awhile before Steve Jobs’ faithful can meet again to pray at the shrine.