Safari Something rather unexpected happened at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference this morning - a Windows version of the Safari browser was announced, and a beta build was made available for download.

I've spent the last couple of hours using it on my desktop running Vista and here are my initial thoughts and impressions. Comments are welcome.

The Good:

  • Speed, speed, speed: As always, Apple has posted lots of numbers for you to chew on, and I was initially skeptical of the claims made. But after repeatedly testing Firefox 2, IE 7 and the Safari 3 beta on a pretty wide variety of sites (including those with 100+ images, heavy Javascript, etc.), I really do feel that Safari is perceivably the fastest of the three. This could be the one thing that could get me to switch browsers, if only it weren't for the other limitations (read on). FYI, I'm on a dual-core Opteron system with 2GB of RAM.
  • WebKit for Windows: This is perhaps the best part of having an official version of Safari for Windows. Web developers can now run their work through the WebKit rendering engine even if they don't have access to a Mac. It certainly beats using the old browser screenshot services. :)
  • Did I mention it's fast? :P

The Bad:

  • Am I still using Windows? If you thought iTunes and QuickTime looked out of place in Windows, wait till you see this thing; it's like Apple ripped Safari out of OS X, added a menu bar to the top, and called it a Windows app. Textboxes, buttons, radio buttons, checkboxes...they all use the bubbly Aqua style. I guess this wouldn't be so bad if it were 2004 and we were all skinning XP to look like OS X, but can we get something more native, please? Probably unlikely, but one can always hope.
  • Who turned off ClearType? Somewhat related to the above point, Safari renders fonts differently from every other application on your system. This can be good or bad, depending on your preference, but it's certainly disconcerting at first. I could probably get used to it with time, and the "Light" font smoothing option looks better than the default "Medium" setting to me. Try it.
  • Look ma, no borders! This is one of those things that throws me off every time I use OS X, and now Windows users can get a piece of the aggravation too - you can only resize the window using the tiny gripper at the bottom right corner. Who in the world thought this was a good idea anyway?
  • It's no Firefox: As with my experiment with IE 7, I miss my extensions. Enough said.

The Ugly:

  • Wonky mouse support: I could live with most of the limitations outlined in the previous section if I really, reallyhad to, but this one's a deal breaker, hence the new "ugly" section. The back and forward buttons on my mouse simply don't work in Safari, and the scrolling speed with the mouse wheel is far too sluggish. This singlehandedly makes the whole browsing experience just dreadful. Apple, please get this fixed ASAP. And while you're at it, how about letting us middle-click tabs to close them (as IE and Firefox do), rather than having us aim for the tiny "X" buttons?

So yeah, it's not all bad, but it's not all great either. Many of the shortcomings are forgivable, considering this is the first beta release of an application that they've never released for Windows, but they're certainly enough to prevent me from using it as my primary browser. That said, it has found its place in my web development toolbox, giving me a way to finally test sites in WebKitquickly and easily, so not all is lost. :)