I was looking to try out Safari on Windows the other day, but all the links to get it were down. Now I know why! Apple released Safari for Windows today. Well, not one to wait around, I promptly downloaded it to give it a spin. In fact, I'm writing this article in it right now.
Now first thing I have to say, it looks like every other Apple application in Windows. That is, it looks nothing like every other Windows application. If you like the brushed look and use iTunes and QuickTime -- you'll fee right at home. If, however, you are like me and enjoy the look and fee of Windows, well get over it. Like Windows Media Player 11, you are stuck with the look and colors it presents you. Sigh.
Overall appearance aside, it looks pretty good for the most part. It is clean, maybe a tad too much for my taste. Forms and inputs shimmer and glisten. Very nice. Unfortunately, it doesn't use Windows' built in text smoother. Thus, fonts look fat and blurry next to the nice Cleartext versions you'll see in other Windows applications. There is an option to change the smoothing strength but that just made the fonts thicker or even more blurry. Note that I'm using XP. It's possible that things look different in Vista. However, this alone may keep me from using it full time.
On the rendering front things look, well, right. Size and placement, other then the earlier text issues are right on. Most sites appear to render the same as they would in IE7 and Firefox. I event gave it a try at css / edge and found it handled the demos there with flying colors.
Apple says things render faster in Safari. I didn't notice any difference in render time between it and IE7. In fact, initial load seems a bit slower. Note that I turned off IE7's load time sucking feature, the phishing filter. You're mileage may vary.
I still prefer IE7's RSS to both Firefox, with or without Sage, and Safari. Safari, like Firefox, just makes the RSS feeds a bookmark, but they don't expand like FF does. Safari includes a nice search feature and some article sizing bars. But, so far, only IE7 supports categories. Also, a downer for me, is neither the RSS or any bookmarks can be loaded in a side bar. You have select the bookmark or folder from the top menu. This is obviously a personal choice, but I'd rather have the option.
On the customization front, Safari plays it safe and offers minimal changes. You can turn some of the bars on/off, but for the most part there isn't much to add. A new tab button would have been nice. You also can't turn off the top menus, something I liked about IE7. You can change the search engine though.This is obviously beta software. Some things don't appear to work yet. I tried turning on the spell as you type feature, but it didn't seem to do anything. Something I wish IE7 supported. But there is more polish here to cover up an blemishes.
I find Safari a nice, no frills browser. It looks good and works well. It has a few rough spots, but it is still in Beta, so there is time to fix issues. For me, I'll probably stick with IE7 and Firefox. Heck, at least now I can validate my sites for MACs. Right?