So Apple released Safari for Windows to public beta (a new OSX version too of course) and listed a dozen reasons why I am going to love it. Now I use IE7 roughly 90% of the time with Firefox filling the other 10% because there are some very cool extensions (CSSEdit rocks and is available for Safari). So I am looking at the list of "12 Reasons You'll Love Safari" and wondering if I will. I should caveat this again with a note saying this is my personal opinion and not necessarily that of my employer 🙂
1. Blazing performance. Yes it is fast, sometimes. It starts fast but I am not convinced it is any faster browsing than IE7 or Firefox. Then again, I've never really put much thought into it and it is possible it becomes more noticeable as I use it more. That said I have better things to do than count the half second longer it takes for some things to happen.
2. Elegant User Interface. Not sure about this one. Sure no scroll bar on a page that does not require one but looking through all my Favorites I found one page that does not need a scroll bar. Live.ca is the search engine I use and the main page doesn't require one (neither does Google). Once a search is executed that changes. There is no status bar by default but that is easy enough to remove from IE7 and you can add it to Safari. To counter by default the bookmark bar is on by default in Safari and not in IE7 This screen shot shows a side by side shot of IE7 and Safari default and there isn't much difference in actual screen real estate. Finally, no ActiveX support (FF has an IE Extension that is a decent substitute).
3. Easy bookmarks. Safari tried to import my bookmarks the first time I started it but crashed (crashed on another machine) but it is beta and being a good beta tester I did file a bug. No issues importing bookmarks in the same manner as I do in IE7 and Firefox. One thing that is missing is Bookmark synchronization. I use Groove for IE bookmarks and there are a number of FF plug-ins that accomplish this.
4. Pop-up blocking. Come on, what browser doesn't have this? I ran through a dozen pages with pop-ups and all three browsers handled them.
5. In-line find. I love this feature! It's available in Outlook 2007 search, wish I had it in IE7 🙂
6. Tabbed browsing. Again, every browser has this now. One thing I don't like is opening a new tab as it requires a keyboard combo or right click on a link. I like in IE7 that I can click on tab bar to open a new tab.
7. Snapback. Nice implementation over drilling through the drop down next to the back/forward buttons but not as granular as it only takes me right to the start.
8. Forms Auto-fill. Another common feature in all browsers.
9. RSS Reader. Again, this is common in all browsers.
10. Resizable text fields. This is interesting but not quite what I expected. This feature allows you to resize text boxes, like where you would enter a comment. To actually change the text size of the content on the page you'd use CTRL + or CTRL - same as in IE7.
11. Private browsing. This is a cool feature, depending on your "surfing habits" 😉 It is nice for visiting some secure sites like for online banking etc...
12. Security. They opened a bag of worms with this one. To quote the Apple web site "Now you can enjoy worry-free web browsing on any computer. Apple engineers designed Safari to be secure from day one." Within a few hours of the release I found this http://larholm.com/2007/06/12/safari-for-windows-0day-exploit-in-2-hours/ and this http://erratasec.blogspot.com/2007/06/niiiice.html Again it is beta, and I did install the Apple Software Updater but that is a rather strong statement for any software developer to publish. The big thing with this now is all those tools used by "security testers" that were never ported to OSX can be run against Safari on Windows and a lot of those exploits will run on OSX versions of Safari as well due to the shared code base.
One thing to note is no Protected Mode like in IE7 but if you do go to a page that attempts to make a system change UAC will still kick in but maybe more importantly no phishing filter. Phishing is one of the biggest threats to the average end user in my opinion and the lack of a phishing filter is huge. I hope for the sake of the surfing public this gets added soon. In my opinion every browser should have this.
So Apple released Safari for Windows. Do you care? Have you tried it? What are your thoughts? As will all my commentary posts I look forward to reading what you have to say.