In an effort to boost market share, Steve Jobs dropped an unexpected bombshell on the audience at the WWDC this morning: Apple's Safari web browser is coming to Windows. IE currently controls about 78% of the browser market, Firefox 15%, and Safari just 5% (according to Jobs' stats -- depending on who you ask, Safari accounts for between 1.5% and 6% of the market; W3Counter's Global Stats put Safari at 1.86%). In order to grow Safari's market share, Apple has released a version for Windows.

According to Jobs, Safari is the most innovative browser (I'm sure plenty of Firefox fans would beg to differ) and runs 2 times faster than IE7 on Windows (not a big surprise) and 1.6 times faster than Firefox 2. The Safari 3 public beta, which was released today, comes in three flavors: OS X, Windows XP, and Vista.

I haven't had a chance to try it yet (downloaded it as I wrote this), but another quality, cross-platform browser is certainly a welcome announcement. Safari could definitely end up taking a bite out of Firefox's marketshare (though the upcoming Firefox 3 has innovative features that might just propel it to the head of the pack) and this move will undoubtedly be felt up in Redmond.

Early user reports are that this is very beta (more like alpha) software. Expect some rockiness.

Interestingly, things seem to have come full circle for Microsoft and Apple. Back in the 80s, Microsoft was one of the biggest software developers on the Apple platform, and today, Apple is fast turning into one of the largest Windows developers (an irony not lost on Gates and Jobs two weeks ago at the D5 conference).

More Web 2.0 News From Apple

Jobs also dropped some more news that could affect Web 2.0 developers, albeit more expected this time. By virtue of the fact that the iPhone (which launches in the US on June 29th) has a full version of Safari, developers will be able to create rich applications for the iPhone simply by creating web apps using AJAX. Web apps will be able to take advantage of the iPhone's native capabilities (like call dialing or the built-in Google Maps) and there is no specialized software development kit. Just about anything that runs on Safari, should run on the iPhone.

Apple developers who were hoping for a more robust iPhone SDK might be disappointed by the news, but web developers should be thrilled. It provides an entire new platform on which to push rich internet apps and allows for added functionality via native iPhone tie-ins.