Readers of this blog will know how much I dislike Apple, but I was wiling to give it a go today when Steve Jobs announced the availability of the Safari browser for Windows XP and Vista platform. Personally I hate Safari 1.x on its native Mac OS platform. I know of no-one, not even die hard MacBots, who like Safari. It is the worst mainstream browser in existence.
But Steve Jobs reality distortion field does work wonder. A lofty claim of '2x' faster than other browsers would surely catch your eyes. So I did a sinful thing and visited Apple's website to download Safari. The default download actually contained a QuickTime installer, but fortunately I caught that and switched to a QuickTime-less download. Seriously why people bother with QuickTime, the worst media player ever created next to RealPlayer is beyond me (go download VideoLan Macboys). Five minutes later I was surfing. And I hated the experience.
The good stuff first. Safari's renderer works well on most websites I visited including YouTube. That's it. It apparently passed the Acidtest so rendering should not be a problem. Now the bad stuff. The font-smoothing engine passed over from OS X lacked clarity. The cleartype technology displayed is the worst I have seen and it makes pages unreadable. I got a migraine just for looking at the ugly anti-aliased fonts as displayed through Safari. You can change the font smoothing to 'light' under 'preferences', but it is still ugly as hell. It would be great if I could turn it off and use the native cleartype technology, but I guess this is a covert operation from Apple to make PC users hate Windows.
Then there is the GUI which is based on Apple's own Mac OS X, which is an eyesore. It may work well on a Mac OS X machine, but it looks oddly out of place on a Windows environment, especially with that god ugly Aqua theme. It would ignore any skinning request from my Styler program or WindowBlinds (for times when I need reminiscing of BeOS). And it would also ignore my Windows preference of not doing window animations visual effects! Plus it wouldn't scroll when I tried my mouse scroll button.
As far as speed goes it is sometimes slow and sometimes fast, so nothing too special there. But Firefox 2 seems to be much faster. Maybe that is because I optimised it through about:config to speed up the renderer and other stuff, or maybe Steve Jobs is lying. Who knows? It wouldn't be the first time. But right now Safari is sitting as a niche product on my PC as a 'backup' browser in case Firefox, then Opera and finally IE7 fails to render a page properly (eBay UK is a known offender). It is probably useful in the future if I decide to change the layout of this blog to see if Mac OS X/Safari users can enjoy more Apple related rants.
Here is a quick comparison of the memory footprint of each program when opening a single tab loaded with BBC News frontpage:
Safari 3.0 (522.11.3) - 57MB
Opera 9.20 - 17MB
Firefox 220.127.116.11 with tons of extensions- 70MB
Internet Explorer 7.0.5730.11 - 41MB
Here are a couple of comparison screenshots between the various browsers rendering BBC News and this website:
Internet Explorer 7
Safari 3 Beta