Web Browser Wednesday

Safari for WindowsThe new Safari on Windows is boasted as one of the fastest browsers available for the Windows operating system. Well, that might be a little biased considering that it is according to Safari’s homepage, but I’ve tinkered with it over the past day and it is among the fastest browsers that I’ve used. It also has some shortcomings though…

First and foremost there have been a number of security concerns with Safari on Windows, which is something I definitely expected. Apple released Safari saying that their “engineers designed Safari to be secure from day one.” We all know that talk is cheap, and the vulnerabilities are something that I expected since Apple doesn’t make Windows software very frequently. Not only that, but this is also a pre-release application, so they have time to correct things before anyone can really start criticizing.

All browsers have their security woes, so in this review I’m going to set that aside and look strictly at the features. I’m going to give a bulleted list of the things that Safari includes, and then I’ll provide a short screencast where I’ll point out some of the cool features as well as the things that it lacks.

–The Features–

Here are the more notable features in Safari (for Windows) that you should be aware of, as specified on the Safari homepage.

  • Performance – As the Safari homepage points out, this browser is very good at loading Websites quickly. I was able to notice a significant reduction in page load times as I was browsing the Web, but that’s not the only kind of performance that is important. The Safari site fails to say what the memory usage is like for the browser, and I’ll be the first to say it’s horrible. At any given time, it is twice what Firefox, Opera, or even Internet Explorer is using up even when visiting the same sites.
  • Interface – Ahh, this is something I don’t really know that I can touch on. Apple made sure that they gave people the feeling that they are using a Mac computer by preventing the Windows operating system from controlling any aspect of the appearance. I think it is safe to conclude that people will be able to easily see when you’re using Safari on a Windows computer. It sticks out like a sore thumb.
  • Bookmarks – This is something that I cover more in the screencast, but overall this is one of the biggest downfalls in Safari. I’m a right-click/drag-and-drop freak and the Bookmarks Bar hardly allows for any of that. You can’t arrange your bookmarks by dragging them around in that bar, instead you have to use the Bookmark Collections which is a hassle. Oh, and did I mention that there is no Bookmarks sidebar for you to use?
  • Safari SearchingSearching – The searching in Safari is almost its best feature. They have done a great job of making the results stand out, and that is something I very much appreciate.
  • Tabbed Browsing – Come on, all of the cool browsers have tabbed browsing these days. The only thing cool about Safari’s is that you can drag a tab off of the tab bar and it will open in a new window.
  • SnapBack – This is pretty nice as well since many of us perform a lot of searches. After doing a search and clicking on a result there will be a little orange icon in the upper-right search box in Safari. That will always be there as a means to take you back to the initial search that you performed.
  • AutoFill Forms – Meh, it’s a form filler and nothing more.
  • Safari Feed ReaderRSS Reader – The built-in RSS reader is a nice cross between the Live Bookmarks that Firefox has and a full RSS feed reader. It even has a cool slider that instantly lets you adjust the length of the articles being displayed. It’s important to note, however, that they do not let you configure an external feed reader for subscribing to the feeds though.
  • Resizable Text Fields – This seems to be the hot new thing since Netscape 9 Beta also has this feature. All it does is let you resize text boxes on a site, such as the one we have below for commenting.
  • Private Browsing – With Private Browsing enabled, Safari won’t store your Google searches, your cookies, the history of sites you’ve visited, your download history, or information from online forms you’ve filled out. With the increasing concern over privacy, this is a feature some users will appreciate.
  • Security – I think I said enough about this up top.

So that’s how I feel about the features Safari has in it that is supposed to make it the browser for you to use. Some of them are cool, but a lot of them have already been seen in existing browsers which makes them far from spectacular.

–The Screencast–

Latest take a more hands-on look at how I feel about the features in Safari:

–The Overview–

As you can see, Safari has several cool features that I would like to see available in other browsers. There is nothing in it that makes it better than Firefox, Opera, or even Internet Explorer in my opinion, so there will probably be few people actually using it. The only way that it will benefit me is allowing me to easily test my site to make sure it renders properly in the Safari browser.

Download the Safari 3 Preview