Safari for Windows: it just doesn’t work

When Apple announced it would offer Safari for Windows last June, I was curious to see how the browser would compare to Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer…so I downloaded it and tried it out. I was quite surprised to find that the browser functioned like an alpha product. It was buggy, slow, and extremely unpleasant to use. I related this experience to a friend of mine who practically worships Apple (yet chooses to live in Microsoft’s backyard), and I was assured Safari would improve, because it was just the first public beta.

Well, almost seven months later, Safari for Windows is still in “beta” (version 3.04) and it’s just as horrible as the day I first tried it. It boots up slowly, stupidly attempts to mimic the font rendering of its Mac OS X brother, has trouble processing Javascript and can’t open files in protected folders. (It will return the error Safari can’t connect to the server). Apple boasts on its website that Safari is “the fastest web browser on any platform” stating specifically:

Safari loads pages up to 2 times faster than Internet Explorer 7 and up to 1.7 times faster than Firefox 2.

And it executes JavaScript up to 3 times faster than Internet Explorer 7 and up to 2 times faster than Firefox 2.What does all that mean for you? Less time loading pages and more time enjoying them.

This is complete bogus. On my Windows XP SP2 machine, Safari struggles just to render web pages, let alone attempt to best Firefox, Opera, or IE in a speed competition. And it fails to execute Javascript consistently. It’s not in the same ballpark as the many mature browsers available for Windows.

I don’t know how Apple achieved the results it brags about in its own testing environment. Maybe there’s something on my machine that’s interfering with Safari, but I keep my system in good order, and other non-Microsoft browsers (Opera, Firefox) work well. But regardless, Safari’s performance in an Apple testing environment is a useless benchmark for end users. What matters is how well the browser works for the user, and that’s not the measurement the company is using in its marketing.

Even if Safari is improved, I doubt users of other browsers will switch to it. There’s no reason for them to do so. As far as I’m concerned, Mozilla Firefox remains the best browser available – for Windows, Mac, or Linux.