Ten Reasons Not to Use Safari on Windows

Michael W. Muchmore has posted article about 10 reason not to use Safari, web browser from Apple.

1. Security
Not only does Safari for Windows contain no built-in antiphishing or antispyware tools—as Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera all do—but security experts have pointed out Safari vulnerabilities that Apple has not bothered to address after a couple of weeks. The claim is made that Apple only fixes high-profile exploits that have gotten a lot of press. True, Safari supports SSL, TLS, certificates, Kerberos, and HTTPS, but you'll find those in the other Windows web browsers, too. Tellingly, Apple places security last in its list of reasons to switch to Safari.

2. Compatibility
We checked Safari for Windows on a couple of sites with demanding interactivity features, such as financial sites. Citibank.com, when we first tried to log in to a bank account, displayed a page saying: "You're using a browser or operating system that can't take advantage of all the features at citibank.com." Safari on the Mac doesn't generate this same message. We were surprised, however, that Fidelity's online account site worked fine. Another interactive app, Google Spreadsheet states that Safari isn't supported. Of course, forget about AjaxWrite, as that only supports Firefox. Surprisingly, the very interactive Zoho Office had no problem, as did meebo. The new version of Yahoo Mail says: "Hmm...your browser is not officially supported."

3. It's a Memory Hog
With the same simple Google search page loaded, Safari took up 27.7MB of RAM, while Firefox took 25.8, Opera took 12.5. Internet Explorer behaved curiously in this test: It started out taking 29MB, more than the others, but then settled down to a mere 2.5MB, and even went down below 2MB when minimized—the slimmest of the bunch. When we added a tab in each browser with the multimedia heavy ABC.com, Safari bulged up to over 100MB of memory usage, while none of the others went above the 50s to load the same content. Going to NBC.com, Safari required 8MB more (60MB) than the next lowest memory user, Firefox (52MB); Internet Explorer and Opera weighed in at 45 and 40, respectively. Adding Yahoo! to the mix, here's what we saw in terms of memory use:

In fact, anecdotally we noticed a definite system slowdown while running a couple Safari windows, which we hadn't experienced with other browsers running, so though Safari can claim to do some rendering faster than other browsers, how good is that if it and all your other applications slow down?

4. Lack of standard Windows program behavior
Just take one basic action familiar to all Windows users: resizing the program's window. Safari for Windows acts like a Macintosh program in that you can only resize by dragging on the lower-right corner of the window, rather than from any edge. Why Apple would want to impose this OS X limitation on Windows users is beyond us, though it does give Windows users a taste of how that "best OS ever" operates. At one point when we tried maximizing it, the window went clear off the screen. This was, granted, on a dual monitor system, but a standard Windows program will maximize in whichever screen its window appears. On one of our screens it did this properly, but before doing so, it displayed some odd screen artifacts for several seconds. We found more of these artifacts as we went along, sometimes just when trying to display Safari from its Taskbar icon.

5. No sidebar
All of the three major browsers—Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera—have very useful sidebars that let you look at your browsing history and bookmarks, and in the case of Opera, Notes and Transfers too. Internet Explorer 7 lets you see RSS feeds here as well as Favorites and history—all accessible by clicking the star on the top left. On a side note, we like Opera's implementation of the sidebar best: not only does it provide more functions as noted above, but it's easiest to get at, by just clicking on the left side of the browser window. To be fair, there is that book icon (another puzzling icon design choice) on the left that opens a pretty decent History and Favorites page, but it would be nice if you could see the web page while having access to these history and bookmark links. Continued...

6. No plugins
For some power users, this is the main reason to use Firefox. Sure, it had tabs before Internet Explorer, but now that browser has an arguably superior implementation of tabs. And IE7 does have its Add-ons, but there isn't the vast selection available such as you can find for Firefox. Also, many of the IE add-ons are for pay, and they can slow down opening tabs. This lack of plugin support just goes along with the whole theme of uncustomizability available in Safari for Windows. Yes, Apple's site mentions Plugins, but they're not what Firefox users think of as plugins, they're merely the basics you can get on any browser—Flash, Java, and the standard media players. It's plugins in the 1998 sense.

7. No skins
You're stuck with that gray, dull interface. Okay, this is one where Internet Explorer is in the same boat, having no skin feature outside of the operating system themes. Firefox and Opera are the clear winners in this category. Who could imagine not having a snowy-themed browser in December?

8. Tabs poorly done
The tabs are similar shades of gray to the rest of the browser window, there's no New Tab choice even if you go into Customize Toolbars to try to add one as you can in Firefox. Opera and Internet Explorer 7 have default easy ways to click for a new tab. You can open a site in a new tab by clicking the middle button on your mouse, but why aren't you taken to that tab by default?

And though middle-clicking a link on a page opens a new tab, doing so on one of your bookmark links does not. Finally, you can get a New Tab choice by right-clicking the tab area only after there are already more than one tab.

Also, Safari doesn't give you the option to reopen the same tabs you had open last time you ran the browser. And it doesn't warn you that you're closing multiple tabs, as Firefox and IE7 do.

9. Code bloat
For its fewer features, the Safari installation software is a 28MB download, well that's when you include QuickTime, without it's 8MB. Compare that with Firefox's under-6MB and Opera's under-5MB downloads. And why doesn't the installer let you choose whether you want the program cluttering up your Quick Launch buttons? Nor does it offer to import your other browsers' bookmarks or set a homepage other than Apple.com.

10. No tool tips
I thought, oh that bug icon looks cute, let's hover the cursor over it and see what it does. Sorry. No tooltips there to inform you. And what does that Plus sign do? Add a tab? New window? No, it adds the current site to your favorites/bookmarks. What kind of great interface icon design is that? A plus sign. Hardly intuitive. Apple's site says they're working on implementing these. Would it have been that hard to include this little helpful feature from the get-go? Continued...
Here are our speed test results comparing Safari with Firefox 2, Internet Explorer 6, Internet Explorer 7, and Opera. We used some benchmarks readily available on the Web and checked the startup times "cold" and "warm" (Cold start is the first run after a reboot and a warm start is after the browser had already been loaded up at least once). We should note that Wired found Safari slower than Firefox and Internet Explorer, though that testing used a live internet connection, which inevitably introduces uncontrollable variances. Another browser speed test done using a live connection, ComputerZen, came up with Safari being on top. Here are our results, using only reproducible tests on a Windows XP SP2 system with 512MB RAM and a 1.6GHz Pentium M CPU :

Test Firefox Internet Explorer 7 IE6 Safari Opera
Celtic Kane JavaScript speed 3604ms 2433ms 1692ms 500ms 711ms
HowToCreate CSS Speed 511ms 610ms 460ms 125 776
W3C DOM 1 356ms 1265ms 1368ms 112ms 258ms
W3C DOM 2 325ms 1182ms 1304ms 98ms 125ms
Table Methods 346ms 4436ms 4699ms 109ms 172ms
innerHTML 1 122ms 191ms 163 ms 44ms 24ms
innerHTML 2 168ms 134ms 103 ms 46ms 21ms
Startup cold 10.3 seconds 4.9 seconds 7.2 seconds 6.2 seconds 7.5 seconds
Startup warm 1.8 seconds 1.7 seconds 1.8 seconds 2.5 seconds 1.8 seconds

So Safari does indeed edge out Opera on Celtic Kane's Javascript benchmark. Opera is a close second, a mere .2 seconds slower. The same can be said for HowToCreate CSS rendering test, in which Safari takes a fraction of the time the other browsers do. The last four tests are from QuirksMode.org, and they test table creation via scripts.