Wow, this is a surprise! I learned via the Ecto blog on Friday Apple has released its Safari web browser in a beta version 3 on both the Macintosh and, for the first time, Windows platforms. (This was announced at the WWDC on Monday.) I have used it a bit now on both Mac OS 10.4 and Windows XP. The only problem I’ve had so far on the Mac side is that it runs fine on the user account with which I installed it, but it doesn’t seem to run at all within other user accounts on the same computer. Rob Griffiths has published a video podcast that shares highlights of the new features. Draggable tabs, resizable text boxes in web forms, and improved page find searches (making it much easier to find highlighted words in a find search) all look great. The ability to “merge all windows” (a new command under the “window” menu bar) is great, since this takes webpages opened in separate windows and puts all of them in a single window with separate tabs. Like FireFox has for some time, Safari now has a warning dialog when you try to close a window containing multiple tabs. It also warns you when you attempt to close a tab or window containing form information you’ve typed but not yet submitted. These are relatively minor but still helpful features.
On Windows XP, Safari seems very speedy rendering pages. Most importantly from my perspective, it offers the same RSS feed reading capabilities as Safari always has on the Mac. I really like the fact that when you save a feed in the “bookmarks bar” at the top of the browser window, Safari periodically checks for new posts on that feed and then shows a number in parentheses after the feed name for the number of new, unread posts. This is the way I typically track comments to my blogs during the day. This feature is NOT part of FireFox or IE7 on Windows, and is one of my favorite Safari features (in addition to its speedy responsiveness.)
From a public access standpoint, another one of my favorite Safari features has been the “RESET SAFARI” command. This is critical when you have entered passwords on a public computer, since those passwords can be cached and saved as cookies. Choosing the RESET command erases all that personal information from the browser.
If you’re willing to try beta software (and acknowledge the inherent risks involved with putting beta software on your computer) give Safari 3 a spin. I’m sure I will continue to use FireFox from time to time (especially for the Unplug extension which makes downloading embedded Flash videos so easy) but Safari remains my browser of choice on the Mac. In the weeks ahead I’ll be interested to see if it becomes my browser of choice on the Windows side of things as well!
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