Apple can make Safari a serious rival to Internet Explorer – but only if its acts now, industry experts say.

A report in The Sydney Morning Herald says: "Apple, KHTML, Opera and Mozilla, has two or three years to innovate on the browser front without any competition from Microsoft.

"Microsoft has announced it will not develop Internet Explorer further. Instead it is focused on developing a new browser to work with Longhorn, its new operating system expected in 2006."

The report suggests that with Internet Explorer out of the picture "we can say goodbye to CSS (cascading style sheet) innovation for a long, long time".

The report praises Safari. "It is markedly better than IE, but being even a lot better did not drive people to Safari."

It also emphasises that anyone using iTunes for Windows will have used Safari, as it's the application's default browser. "Apple might just have found the killer app to drive people to adopt a new, lightweight, fast, open-source-based, standards-compliant multi-platform browser: mainstream commercial online music."

The report concludes: "We can only hope to see Safari for Windows, and maybe other platforms. And with it thriving browser innovation based on the open standards of the World Wide Web."