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Google to launch browser to compete with Microsoft

Safari 3 for Windows

Safari LogoDuring the World Wide Developer Conference last week, Apple officially announced the availability of Safari 3 beta for the Windows operating system. It seems that the Mozilla’s prediction which I posted at the beginning of this year came true. With the release of Safari for the Windows mainstream, this marks the beginning of yet another browser war. I decided to download a copy to test and see how it compares to Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox 2 on my machine.

When I first launched Safari 3 on Windows, I was amazed to see the amount of effort that went into making the experience as similar as possible to that on the Mac OS X. Even the browser was skinned to look like the Mac OS X Safari but I find that it looked a little too dark and dull on Windows. I was also surprised to find that the browser window can only be resized from the bottom right corner of the window. The typeface is also not as sharp as compared to that on the Mac OS X.

broken text formattingApart from the interface design, I also ran into a few keyboard issues and page rendering problems. On Firefox, I’m able to rotate through tabs by using Ctrl + Tab and Ctrl + Shift + Tab. On Safari, this key doesn’t work and instead, one has to use Ctrl + Shift + [ and Ctrl + Shift + ]. I’m not sure if this would be a permanent feature or if the keyboard mappings can be configured in the final version but I certainly hope the developers will look into this. I also encountered some issues such as being logged out after posting an entry in Movable Type as well as the HTML formatting buttons not appearing in Movable Type. Besides this, Safari lacked a few other features such as selection of the entire URL in the address bar as well as a keyboard shortcut to the address bar.

Though there are many flaws in the browser itself, there are also plus points. One of the things that I observed through using Safari is that the start up time is faster and it renders pages faster. On average, it takes about 1.6 seconds to complete loading a page as compared to 5.2 seconds in Firefox and 5.9 seconds in Internet Explorer respectively. You can take a look at the bar chart that I’ve created.

browser load time comparison

RSS featureSafari has also incorporated a built-in RSS viewer which I personally like it very much. It displays every headline and article summary right in the browser window and allows one to adjust the article length, sort-by style as well as filter the contents based on a time line. The search feature is also refreshing as Safari makes it really easy to spot the matches highlights by dimming the current page and showing the currently selected match with a hard-to-miss orange background.

Overall, it is a good browser especially for the unique features it offers. It is also useful for web developers to test their design without the need to get a Mac. For now, I’ll probably stay with Firefox until Apple decides to release the final version of Safari.