"One more thing," the most anticipated words in a keynote speech given by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The final major announcement of a Jobs keynote, one more thing is usually Apple's biggest and most secret product or project, previously having introduced items such as the MacBook Pro, various iPods, and AirPort 802.11 products. So whenever Jobs says those three words, the technology community tends to be all ears.

Not one to break tradition, at this year's Apple Worldwide Developer's Conference(WWDC), Jobs closed as always with one more thing, and as usual the audience got the unexpected. This year's conference and one more thing will likely be at the top of any top 10 lists for some time to come however, for the one more thing wasn't a new Apple product at all, it was Safari for Windows.

Safari, Apple's custom web browser for Mac OS X, has since its inception played a fairly minor role on the world wide web due to being limited to modern Macintosh computers, and hence a role and market share limited to the size of the Mac OS X install base. This has been scheduled to change for some time now as with the impending release of Apple's iPhone smartphone, Safari will be the shipping browser there too, with all indications of the iPhone quickly selling out. However nowhere in these public plans was a version of Safari for Windows, which may very quickly eclipse the market share effects of the aforementioned iPhone.

Given this unexpected release, it has taken very little time for Apple to drum up a lot of interest in Safari - having already passed 1 million downloads - nor has it taken long for a multitude of theories of sprout on and off of the WWDC show floor. It's not every day that someone releases a new web browser after all.

We have covered Safari in the past with our Mac OS X 10.4 review and A Month With A Mac series, with very little changing between Safari 2.0 and 3.0 other than Windows support. So rather than rehash those articles for anyone unfamiliar with Safari, we recommend reading those reviews first before continuing.

Since the release of Safari 2.0 when Apple managed to take care of many of the performance issues with Safari, Apple has been trying to build a reputation for Safari as a faster browser, something they have only been marginally successful at so far. Having finally corrected a number of their performance issues in Safari, this is the key point Apple is trying to push with Safari 3, and we're eager to put it to the test. However it takes more than speed to crack the browser market, including memory usage and a slew of generally subjective issues within a browser such as flow. Although Apple is neither a newcomer to the web browser market or the Windows market, both markets can be surprisingly fickle and treacherous at times.

Does Safari have what it takes to challenge the dynamic duo of Firefox and Internet Explorer on Windows, or does Apple need to go back to the drawing board? Let's find out.

The Test
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  • Griswold - Saturday, July 7, 2007 - link

    As for the RAM, you're right to a certain point. There are far too many people out there who like to stare at their unused RAM and feel proud that their system is so slim, sleek and... slow, because everything has to be loaded from the slow disk. RAM is here to be used, not to be left unused. End of story.

    But reality often isnt that simple. When software starts to unnecessarily hog RAM, resulting in disk trashing when its needed elsewhere, then its time to have a closer look and criticise.

    Some older FF builds in the 1.5 days were like that. Have FF run for a full day and it would start to bloat up to several hundred megabytes thanks to caching too many previous visited sites in RAM. Manually reducing that number to a reasonable value trimmed down the RAM usage. Personally, I dont see that behavior in FF 2.x anymore.
  • Justin Case - Sunday, July 8, 2007 - link

    Like I said, simply checking how much RAM a program is using tells you nothing about its _efficiency_. Most browsers let you choose how much RAM they can use for cache. If it doesn't respect that value, it's not "bloated"; it's buggy.

    For example, something that Opera has done for a long time and other browsers have only recently copied is this: cache the _rendered_ pages in the browser history. That way when you press the "back" or "forward" button, the page is there _instantly_, regardless of complexity. This makes a huge difference in the user experience and is a good use of 4 MB of RAM. The latest versions of Firefox do this, too. Not sure about MSIE.

  • crimson117 - Thursday, July 12, 2007 - link

    "This makes a huge difference in the user experience and is a good use of 4 MB of RAM."

    I agree, as long as it releases ram it's not likely to use anytime soon.

    If I've been browsing for a while and then load up a game to play, but keep the browser open, then I definitely don't need 400 MB of cached renderings.

    Hopefully it would cache the rendered pages for the past few sites, but write to disk the render cache for older sites in my session to free up the ram.
  • Fede777 - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    In the Subjective Testing page it says

    Buttons: iTunes(left) vs. Safari(right)
    but it should say

    Buttons: IE(left) (on vista) vs. Safari(right)
  • Fede777 - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    My mistake, it's just that iTunes looks like safari on XP
  • cmdrdredd - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    The most interesting thing to me out of the whole article is the mrmory footprint chart. I never realized IE used so much memory as I don't check the usage.

    I downloaded Safari and it works quite nicely for me. I don't see one browser being vastly superior to another under normal usage though. I'm not so picky.
  • Nemokrad - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    Safari 3.0.2 was released two weeks ago today. How come you didn't use it?
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    This article has been complete for longer than two weeks. We had some unusual circumstances that kept us from publishing it on time.
  • solipsism - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    I saw that and was able to read the first page before it was removed.

    What were the "unusual circumstances" for not posting it?

    PS: AnandTech is a favorite read for me because of the detail that is usually spent on a topic/item but I found this review to be rudimentary. I would have like to see other speed tests done with heavy JS and Flash pages, a comprehensive overview of how WebKit differs from IE and Firefox engines, a detailed report of how Safari imported frameworks for OS X and not just a mention of the visual differences, and a comparison of HTML5 and CSS3 Open Standards used between the browsers. One in particular that Safari has is the ability to resize text boxes.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Sunday, July 8, 2007 - link

    I don't need that kind of detailed analysis. Since the interface sucks and the window behavior is like a stubborn Mac window, the deal is off.

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