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Mac OS X Lion to include browser-only boot

Google Chromebook redux?

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Here's an interesting bit of news for the conspiratorially minded: Apple's soon-to-be-released Mac OS X 10.7, aka Lion, will allow you to boot directly to the Safari browser, bypassing the desktop and Finder entirely.

But before you go all Chrome OS all over yourself, however, thinking that Apple is about to mimic Google and turn Lion into a browser-based OS, note that this "Restart to Safari" option, as uncovered by a MacRumors tipster, is accessed not from the log-in screen, but from the lock screen – the password-protected access dialog that you can set in System Preferences > Security > General.

As such, "Restart to Safari" is merely a way to trick doofus thieves into booting a stolen Mac into Safari-only mode and bleating that Mac's IP address to world+dog, thus allowing Lion's "Find My Mac" anti-theft feature to kick in and trap said doofus without allowing him (and, yeah, it'd most likely be a guy) to access any of the Mac's user files.

We also could see this feature making it possible for IT folks to easily lock out equally doofistic users from anything other than web access – does that web-researching intern or temp really need full access to the Guest user area, eh?

Or, for that matter, Restart to Safari could be used to turn a Mac into a kiosk – albeit one with full web access.

Although we at The Reg are more than willing to ascribe nefarious intent to many of Apple's efforts to control its users, in the case of Restart to Safari, it appears that there's no hidden Jobsian control-freak agenda.

So far... ®

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