Product Review: Apple Safari 3 web browser for Windows

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Apple Computer’s recent introduction of its Safari web browser for Windows is part of a continuing effort to grow market awareness and ultimately, sales of Apple products. Apple has seen Mac computer sales grow as of late, driven both by iPod users buying their first Mac and by Intel Macs that can run Windows as well as the Mac operating system. Given that Safari is a free download and pretty much everyone with a computer uses a web browser, it has the potential to make some tremendous waves in a market dominated by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer much as Apple’s iTunes and iPod dominate the music market.

As someone who uses both Macs and PCs I was anxious to see how Safari made the trip from Mac to Windows. I found that exactly as they had done with iTunes, Apple has created a Windows version faithful to the original. And that is a very good thing.

Safari’s interface is very modern, minimalist and clean, avoiding stylistic elements for the sake of adornment. The toolbar is easily customizeable by dragging buttons from a palette to where you want them to be on the browser window. When setting up for the first time I recommend you select “View Status Bar” under the View Menu, as well as using the Customize Toolbar command to set the browser up exactly as you want. You will be struck by how easy and intuitive it is, just like using other Apple products.

Though I did not do any formally timed tests, it was obvious Safari loaded pages noticeably faster than Internet Explorer. The “Blazing Perfomance” claim at apple.com did not at all seem out of line. Combined with the easily customized interface and intuitive controls, it makes for a web browsing experience that says “high performance” in the same way driving a premium automobile makes you feel compared to the way you feel when driving a domestic rental car. The only disappointment was text seemed slightly fuzzy around the edges on some fonts and font colors. It’s a small tradeoff for a browser that is so fast and easy to use, and which I find far superior to IE7 for day-to-day web browsing.

Told of Windows users’ appreciation of iTunes as a Windows application, Steve Jobs said, “it’s like giving ice water to someone in Hell”. If iTunes is a glass of ice water, Safari is Steve Jobs hooking up a fire hose to a hydrant and aiming it at the same hellbound denizens… it can affect a lot more people, a lot more, a lot faster. It’s a brilliant marketing move and a boon to PC users looking for a better way to browse the web. Once Apple gets the text sharpened up a bit they will have a clear grand slam on their hands, one bound to bring more people into Apple stores to see what Macs are all about.

As a tool that can have a positive impact on your computing experience every day, Safari is an application that belongs on your computer. I strongly recommend you give it a try. It’s a free download at www.apple.com.

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