Apple has pulled something of a shock by releasing the next version of its Safari browser for Windows as well as the Mac. What's more, it's released it as a Beta trial.

The announcement was the 'One More Thing' feature of Steve Jobs' keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. "We think big," said Jobs, before explaining that Apple wants a bigger slice of the browser pie. When he demoed Safari in Windows on stage, Jobs amused the congregation by claiming the experience was "odd."

Beta releases are usually the preserve of Google, but old-school companies such as Microsoft, Adobe and Symantec have changed their ways in recent time to release early versions of crucial apps.

As with the Mac version, Safari has a built-in RSS reader and supports all the latest Web 2.0 standards. Jobs also reasoned at WWDC that as there have been over 500 million downloads of iTunes for Windows, he reckons Apple can replicate that number with Safari. What's more intreguing is whether Apple will now plan to release Windows versions of its other core Mac OS X applications.

Microsoft isn't likely to be pleased at the news and even less at figures revealed by Jobs using the iBench HTML test that rated Safari for Windows as twice as fast as Internet Explorer 7 and 1.6 times faster than Firefox 2.

"We think Windows users are going to be really impressed when they see how fast and intuitive web browsing can be with Safari," said Jobs later in a prepared statement. "Hundreds of millions of Windows users already use iTunes, and we look forward to turning them on to Safari's superior browsing experience too."

Safari 3 public beta is available today as a free download . You'll need Windows XP or Vista.