Safari for Windows - A Review

Product Review: Safari 3.0 Beta for Windows

I spent most of the afternoon fannying around with Safari on Windows in one way or another, so I thought I'd write up my first impressions. First off, things I liked:
  • Fast Javascript - javascript heavy web pages (for example, GMail) worked really quickly and were very responsive
  • Fast rendering with position:fixed and iframes - this seems to be a combination that really slows down Firefox (and remember, anything which has a GoogleAd unit on it has on iframe, I ended up re-redesigning this website as a result), just scrolling up and down the page becomes an effort, but in Safari everything remains smooth
  • Safari toolbar customisation dialogue
    It's pretty - there's no getting around it, not just the overall look of the browser, but the little icons in alert windows and the semi-transparent configuration popups are all very nice
  • Safari RSS view
    Excellent default view of RSS feeds - even better than IE's, and loads better than Firefox
  • Snapback - this is nifty, can be used as a short term bookmark thing but, by default, will 'snap you back' to the first page you visited on a site, or your search results if you were visiting a site from Google
  • Safari bug reporting dialogue
    Bug reporting tool - looks nice and easy to use, allows you to attach a screenshot and the page source by ticking checkboxes
  • Resize text field - a great idea, but I could only get it to resize textarea elements rather than any text input. It also had an interesting effect on the post page of this blog
  • Safari activity window
    Activity window - shows the file size of every page element, very neat, though of course with Firefox it's a simple matter of getting an extension to do this
But there's also a list of things I didn't like:
  • Safari tab preferences dialogue
    Can't make all links open in tabs - links which open a new window, open a new window, in Firefox everything opens in a tab. There is a 'merge windows' option, but I'd rather it just opened the links into a tab in the first place
  • Safari general preferences dialogue
    Can't 'choose where to save every file' - I have a whole hierarchy on my hard drive for saving files into, so that I can find them later, but Safari makes me first save the file and then manually move it where I want it to go
  • Single or double click doesn't select whole address - on Windows clicking on the address bar selects the whole text (on Linux, double click does the same), in both Firefox and IE, and then you can immediately start typing knowing you'll replace it, Safari only selects to the nearest full stop either side, so you have to click and drag to select the whole address
  • Auto-complete sometimes interferes with typing address in - this happened to me a couple of times, I assume it's really a bug, but Safari would become so obsessed with providing me with autocomplete options in the address bar that it wouldn't let me type a new URL in (first noticed after I'd visited the Washington Post website, couldn't type a second 'w' into the address bar sometimes)
  • Can't resize window by border - although it's nice that the chrome doesn't waste any screen real estate, I'm used to being able to resize my app windows from any border
  • Safari bookmarks manager
    Can't detach bookmark manager, and ctrl+click doesn't work - in fact I couldn't get any tab to detach, maybe I was doing it wrong, but according to the help file ctrl+clicking the bookmarks icon was supposed to open it in a tab instead of over the top of whatever you have open, it didn't
  • No extensions - :'( this is the killer for me as far as everyday browsing is concerned, I've gotten used to the seven or eight extensions I use regularly in Firefox and it seems unlikely they would all be replicated in Safari, though it seems there's some activity in the Safari extensions area, and also the possibility of doing your own development with Apple and WebKit components
Overall, I'm probably not quite as underwhelmed as most Apple developers seem to be, also the security exploits, discovered within hours of the launch immediately detract from the twelfth reason why Apple thinks we'll love Safari. Also, while the browser is fast (and it's still only a beta, remember) I don't think that alone will be enough to garner significant market share - after all Opera has been faster than both IE and Firefox for a long time but lacks the ubiquity of the former and the customisabilty of the latter. Certainly I don't see myself using it as a regular browser in the near future - 3 out of 5.
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