Apple released today at its World Wide Developer Conference a Windows version of its Safari browser, giving Windows a fourth major web browser. The software is available as an 8 megabyte free download at apple.com/safari. Be sure to avoid additionally installing things you may not need, like some sort of networking software.
Is it good? Sure seems to load pages fast. Apple emphasizes that in a lot of places, because for those who’ve never used Firefox, or Opera, or even Internet Explorer 7, there isn’t much different here. Tabbed browsing, Mac UI, bookmarks, pop-up blocker, inline find (CTRL+F), autofill, RSS reader, resizable text fields, and encryption support. The only other unique features are SnapBack, which jumps you back to search results (Opera has a way better version of this feature) and one-click private browsing (no history, no cookies).
If you absolutely must have pages load faster more than anything, go with Safari. It does seem really fast. Otherwise, I can’t see a lot of incentive.
- The UI clashes with the rest of Windows (when Microsoft develops for the Mac, they match the UI, so why doesn’t Apple?)
- The address bar doesn’t select the URL when you click (why the hell not?)
- The Flash player isn’t installed (even though RealPlayer, QuickTime, Acrobat and Java are, you need to install a plugin)
- There’s this really confusing lightbulb button (it sends error reports)
- The tab bar is hidden at first
- Double-clicking the tab bar doesn’t open new tabs
- The bookmark and tab bars use dark gray with black letters. Impossible to read at a glance!
- Downloaded files have to all be downloaded to a specific folder (by default the desktop, annoying!)
- Links open in new windows, not tabs
- Are there any keyboard shortcuts for switching tabs? Don’t seem to be.
- The font smoothing just thickens letters instead of actually, you know, smoothing fonts. Whatever it does, the text just makes me uncomfortable.
- There’s no dialog for enabling/disabling plugins
- The preferences reference “Option-Tab”, which is strange since “Option” isn’t on any Windows keyboards!
- Preferences has no “Ok” button. Does clicking “X” do the same as “Ok”? Jeez, Windows doesn’t work like that. Why are you confusing users?
- What the hell does “Reset” do?
- Resizing the window ups CPU usage to 100%, making it real slow and tedious.
- The SnapBack feature snaps forward for no reason. I don’t get it. It also snaps back to the front page of some sites, like Google Video, instead of the search results.
- The windows gets smaller every time I open it! Arghh!
- You can only resize the window from the bottom right-hand corner. That means if it is at the bottom of the screen, you need to grab the title bar, drag to the top of the screen, then go back to the bottom right-hand corner and drag outwards to resize. Fun fun.
- Some of the installed plugins don’t seem to work, even the Quicktime one. Confuses the hell out of me.
Whatever. It’s a beta. Naturally, tons of things don’t work right and don’t make sense. It won’t be many people’s default browsers, but it has promise.