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Mozilla man accuses Jobs of 'bypass the web' scheme

Apple.com busts Firefox 4

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On Wednesday, as Steve Jobs went "Back to the Mac", the fanbois of the world enjoyed their usual collective orgasm. But for Mozilla director of Firefox development Mike Beltzner, the reaction was decidedly different.

"I wonder when Apple will stop shipping Safari," Beltzner tweeted in the wake of Jobs' press event. "It's obvious already from today's keynote that they're looking to bypass the web."

A day after Mozilla unveiled a prototype for an "open web app store" – a browser-agnostic store offering access to standards-based web apps sans Jobsian gatekeeper – Beltzner was less than pleased with the predictably draconian setup of Apple's new Mac App Store.

As revealed by one Mac developer, the store forbids "beta", "demo", "trial" and "test" apps, and if an app crashes or so much as "exhibits a bug" – yes, exhibits a bug – it will be rejected as well.

Jobs also bars apps that use Java and other "deprecated or optionally installed technologies." And all apps must use the "appropriate Mac OS X APIs for modifying user data stored by other apps". And so on and so forth.

"These Mac OS X App Store requirements are not going to work well with Mozilla's 'open beta' development process: http://pastie.org/1236378," read another tweet from Beltzner.

But that's not all the Mozilla man had to complain to about. After Jobs announced the new MacBook Air, Apple pushed out a fresh homepage with a sweeping photo of the new ultrathin laptop, and due to what Beltzner calls a flaw in the way Apple handles its CSS, the page can't be browsed with the latest Firefox beta.

"Nice: www.apple.com is serving flawed CSS rules (where's our display:none?) to Firefox 4 preventing nightly users from browsing the site," Beltzner said with yet another tweet.

According to a fourth Beltzner tweet, Apple's site is "assuming that the only web engine capable of CSS transitions also understands WebKit-only events." If you're using the latest build of Firefox 4 beta 6 and you visit apple.com, the homepage will load, but you won't be able to select any of the hyperlinks. The problem is not present on the stable version of Firefox or other browsers – WebKit-based or otherwise.

There's a temptation to lay down a joke about apple.com being ineligible for the Mac App Store. But we all know that Apple's rules never apply to Apple.

In an effort to solve the problem, Beltzner has asked the twitterverse if someone could put him in touch with the Jobsian cult. "Anyone know a web developer at Apple?" he tweeted, before pointing to a bug report detailing the problem. "If so, could you get them to look at https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=605919"?

But one wonders how much success he'll have. If Apple is looking to bypass the web, its web developers are out the door as well. And if it's not, we question whether its web developers actually speak with the outside world. ®

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