Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Safari, Not So Good-y

Among the many announcements from "The Steve" yesterday, the one with the most immediate potential benefit for me was the release of the Safari web browser for Windows. I use Safari at home almost exclusively (there are just a couple of Google applications that aren't compatible with Safari, and for those I use Firefox). I've heard a bit of griping from a few folks about Apple software running on Windows - to date, iTunes and Quicktime - for being memory hogs, for not using the "standard" Windows UI (not that anyone else seems particularly concerned about it, not least of all Microsoft), for crashing (I've not had any problems with either iTunes or Quicktime, myself).

So I was all set to try out the new Safari Beta 3 for Windows. Unfortunately, this is clearly an early beta. Right off the start, Safari launched successfully but then failed to display correctly - none of the fonts were loaded. I found a fix for this from my favorite technology news site / message board, Ars Technica. Apparently, having lots of fonts (for some definition of the word "lots") can cause the font index in Safari to get borked. There was a lot of complaints on that board about the usual things, plus a new one - the font rendering. Apparently, Apple decided to bring over their own font renderer instead of using the one in Windows, and the results end up being a bit bolder and darker than most other Windows programs. Again, I don't see a lot of consistency across Windows programs either in this regard - in particular, the new Office 2007 I've been using renders fonts quite a bit softer and lighter than other apps. It's not "broken" or "wrong", it's just different. And to me - better. On the other hand, a lot of users are running fine, and most seemed to be impressed with Safari's speed.

But three big problems made me remove Safari and fall back to Firefox. First, the proxy handling is not quite right. We use a proxy/firewall at my company, and Firefox requires me to provide the password once per session. Safari seemed to want it once per remote site - that is, many more times than Firefox. Second, there seem to be some security issues - not good for a corporate environment. Third and most important - stability. Safari crashed twice in about fifteen minutes for me, and that's unacceptable.

It's just a beta, so I'm not overly concerned at this point. But I'm going to have to wait for the final release. Sorry, Apple.

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