Classic Macs in the Intel Age

Safari 3.1 Is the Best Browser for Macs and for Windows

- 2008.07.08 - Tip Jar

I know some of you just plain don't like Apple's Safari browser and instead chooses to install Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer as soon as you've booted your new Mac.

I disagree. Safari saw some great new changes with version 3.1, and it's now even better.

"Why Safari?" you may ask. Well here are my primary reasons for choosing Safari over any other browser:

  1. Lightweight - no need to say more.
  2. Speedy!
  3. Great UI.

Safari is also great is you're running Mac OS X on a G3 (or early G4) system. I have a 450 MHz Power Mac G3 running Tiger - and while Firefox is a hog, Safari is just as fast as any browser.

However, this only seems to apply to 10.4 and 10.5 systems (i.e. Safari 3), as noted by many. The Safari version available for Jaguar (1.1) is quite slow indeed, and the Panther version (2), while slightly better, is still slow.

It stills fits my needs in website compatibility needs however.

And Safari was a revolution. It was Apple's first web modern browser. [Editor's note: Cyberdog, Apple's first browser, was killed off in 1997. dk]

In 2003, the Konqueror-based web browser showed up on ADC as a public beta. It was new. It was slick. The design matched any Apple computer perfectly, unlike Internet Explorer 5, which only matches the Bondi blue iMacs with its default color scheme.

Internet Explorer 5.x for Mac OS X
The default Aqua Blue color scheme used by Internet Explorer 5.2.

That October, Safari was released as version 1.0, compatible with Mac OS X 10.2 and the brand new 10.3.

OS X 10.3 was the first version of OS X to use the brushed metal appearance, which matches Safari perfectly. The brushed metal was, however, used on the 10.2 version of Safari as well, making it look slightly out of place in the old operating system.

I think many of us, permanently brain damaged from using Windows, think that the included set of software is just "cheap, crappy LoFi-versions of the real thing" and that you have to install a "real" browser such as Firefox. Internet Explorer 6 is a fine example of this philosophy - slow, cheap and buggy. (IE 7 however is decent.)

However this is not true on the Mac. Apple's included software tends to be excellent. For instance, TextEdit is about 100% better than WordPad.

But this is not about TextEdit. It's about Safari, which is an awesome browser, loading pages as fast as Firefox and being as lightweight as Opera or iCab - a great mix of the Mac's greatest browsers.

The best part has got to be how lightweight it is. That makes it great for Macs with low RAM or a small hard drive. It's like comparing the 700 KB Tomato Torrent to Azureus, which literally makes the Mac so slow it can't even open the Finder.

Note that I said "the Mac's greatest browsers". That's true. But it's not only the greatest Mac browser, it's also...

The Best Windows Browser

It's true. Safari, the most Apple-ish browser out there, now runs on Windows.

I'm using it on a 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo D notebook with Windows XP, and it's a hell of a lot faster than IE 7. It loads very quickly, and Low End Mac loads about 5 times faster than with Internet Explorer.

Safari running in Windows XP
Yes, there is a version of Safari for Windows - and it rocks!

Safari for Windows retains the brushed metal appearance and the Aqua buttons, which makes it look slightly out of place on most Wintels. (Not on my laptop however - Fujitsu Siemens was kind enough to give the laptop a brushed-metal style case!)

It's the best browser for Windows XP (it works on Vista too, but I'm not going to go there) and Mac OS X.

One Drawback

But it must have some faults? No one's perfect, not even Apple.

For example, the compatibility is not that good. Many sites require Internet Explorer 5.5 or later (on a Wintel, since 5.2 was the last Mac version) to work properly. This is something website developers should work on, as the Mac now has about 8% market share and doesn't have Internet Explorer 5.5 or later as an option. That's about the only flaw I can find in Safari.

Please note that on June 30, 2008, Safari was updated to version 3.1.2. If you haven't already done a Software Update/Windows Update, do so now!

And there's just one more thing - Safari 4.0 Developer Beta is out. I'm hoping to see some cool new features and improved website compatibility. But as long as it's compatible with Low End Mac, I'm happy.

Next time we'll hotrod an old eMac to run newer games and view HDTV, and after that, expect some articles on the truckload of old Macs I'm picking up. LEM

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