Safari on Windows

I was initially excited about Apple’s release of Safari for Windows.

I’ve been a long-term Phoenix Firebird Firefox user and I use it as my primary browser on both Windows and OS X. I love the fact that I can install extensions to enhance what I’m doing. In particular I like Greasemonkey, which lets me hack the pages I’m viewing using small scripts.

However, Firefox seems to me to have lost its way a bit. It seems to have sprung some pretty serious memory leaks (as I type this it is sitting at ~460Mb real RAM and ~500Mb VM) and doesn’t feel as snappy as it once was. As I’ve said numerous times before, this could be due to the way I use it – I’m lazy about managing the number of tabs that I keep open, and I do use a lot of extensions.

More annoyingly, Firefox doesn’t currently use colour profiles to display images. This is quite upsetting on the Mac, where I can quite happily use Lightroom to edit my images; export them as JPEGs; and view them on Flickr in Safari, and they will look just as rich as they did in Lightroom…. switch to Firefox on any platform, and they appear washed out. Progress is being made on improving this situation – in fact it looks like a possible fix has been checked in to the Firefox code base recently – but right now, Safari on OS X is my only way of seeing the colours I expect.

I had high hopes that Safari on Windows would do the same thing for me – display my photos as I want to see them. So, I installed it. Unfortunately, it looks like it is rendering images in the same way as Firefox – so clearly there’s something magic in the underlying libraries it is using that hasn’t come across from the Mac version.

A wider question remains though – without forced bundling (IE), advertising and word-of-mouth (Firefox), or hardware (as with iTunes/iPod) to drive it onto the OS, what will make a Windows user choose Safari? Cool factor? Well, the release made a small piece on the second page of this morning’s Metro newspaper, so maybe UK commuters will rush to download it. I’ll follow the size of the install base with interest.

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15 responses to “Safari on Windows

  1. One aspect worth remembering is that Safari is the SDK platform for the iPhone. If you want to write extensions/plugins for the phone, you just have to write some HTML/javascript that works in Safari and it will (allegedly) work on the iPhone. Without Safari on Windows, Apple would be restricting the availability of the SDK to developers. It seems that Apple are keen to grow an eco-system of plugin authors much like Mozilla has with Phoenix Firebird Firefox IceWeasel – but I don’t see the iPhone being as much of a must-have as the iPod was. Without the high demand for the hardware, will there be a high demand for the software?

    Now, if Safari (or more likely WebKit) begins to appear on other mobile devices, this will be a far more interesting story.

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  2. Did you happened to import Firefox bookmarks to Safari yet? I did, and as a result the Safari went so unstable that each time I tried to do ANYTHING related to the bookmarks it crashes…

    “Safari Web Browser has encountered a problem and needs to close…”

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  3. I’m running firefox right now with about 7 tabs open, including a PDF viewer, and 14 extensions and it’s consuming about 100M, Safari with 1 tab is eating 123M right now.
    I reckon you really ought to prune down your extensions as a single dodgy extension could be the culprit.
    As for Safari – it seems pretty swift, but it looks awful. I don’t quite know how it manages it but using the exact same font settings as firefox, it manages to blur all the text to an unpleasant degree. Setting font smoothing to “light” helps a bit, but firefox looks waay crisper. And brushed metal just isn’t my thing – great for kitchen appliances, not for a web browser. Actually I could bitch about the look and feel for ages, but better not.

    @Sambesi – I had no problems with my imported firefox bookmarks. However, I noticed after doing it myself that it had already done it silently for both IE and firefox at install time, so I needn’t have bothered.

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  4. Point taken about the extensions. I use far fewer on OS X than I do on Windows. I really ought to be more agressive about pruning them.

    I’ve also had no issues with the Bookmarks so far.

    The font thing is weird, and I know what you mean about the blurriness. . It is almost as if the page is being rendered as an image, in some ways. I noticed that when I look at Flickr pages and I move the Window around, the images become corrupted. Holding down the middle mouse / Trackpoint button for scrolling doesn’t work either. Well – it’s a beta.

    One funky thing is that text input boxes on forms have a little resize box in Safari. That’s neat.

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  5. With regard to the washed out colour – I always covert my stuff to the srgb colour space before putting them on Flickr or the web generally. That’s the default colour space for applications and systems that don’t do colour management so it will look good on Firefox, etc.

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  6. I spotted the font stuff as soon as I tried it. Horrid.

    Scoble claims this proves Microsoft ClearType is superior to Apple’s anti-aliasing technology šŸ™‚

    Apparently Safari on Windows is also riddled with security holes. What fun.

    I’ve downloaded it but think I’ll be steering clear until the next drop šŸ™‚

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  7. Well apart from anything else it’ll make web development easier as you can test for Safari without having to use another machine.

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  8. @ids – I’ve tried sRGB and always export my images from RAW in Lightroom in that colour space. As I’ve mentioned before, that is not a complete solution, unfortunately šŸ˜¦

    @gendal Where did you hear about the security holes? Link?

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  9. @andy: re security holes: http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/06/12/0120230

    @darren: or it gives you _another_ platform and OS combination to test.

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  10. Sorry Andy…. should have provided a link.

    @nick – thanks.

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  11. How interesting. I just did a comparison between browsers using one of my photos on Flickr and found much the same as you.

    On OS X running on the MBP there was a significant difference between Firefox and Safari. The Safari version was more saturated, with much more accurate colours. Then I compared IE6, Firefox, and Safari on Windows and they all looked much the same.

    I also tried to compare between OS X and Windows, but sadly I think I was comparing the MBP’s display to that of my Thinkpad, which didn’t really come out in favour of the latter.

    All of which supports what you were saying above. Serves me right for only ever visiting Flickr on OS X / Safari. It turns out I’m viewing the world through tinted spectacles – or Windows or Firefox users are. But then you start to sink in a sea of relativism.

    Is it more important to be right or to be popular?

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  12. James Taylor

    Ok, a bit of a tangent, and not exactly ideal for photos, but…

    I’m still an Opera fan, which means I’m now very excited about browsing the web on a wii.

    So now when people tell me a page is fine if only I used IE/Firefox/Safari I can wander off muttering, well it won’t work on all those wiis then šŸ™‚

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  13. The other problem Safari has is that it now has a bad reputation on Windows. Slowness (20 seconds to load Gmail?), stalls (in the middle of loading pages), security flaws (lots of). This is without a doubt the worst browser ever released for Windows – yes, including the infamous IE6. Apple has just shot itself in the foot!

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  14. I use lots of extensions in FF, and it definitely has memory leaks. FasterFox has a “clear cache” option, but doesn’t free up much memory at all, and with 10 tabs open, FF on my machine can easily be between 200 and 450MB of memory, which goes down to 100 if I restart (and it reopens the tabs i had open).

    I am using Safari on my xp notebook right now, and it’s ok, but not very customizable, and um, NO extensions? I’ll try back in 6 months and see if anything has improved. Until, then, I’ll suffer with FF and it’s memory leaks.

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