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scompasssSteve Jobs once said that Microsoft’s products lack “taste”. At the moment, it started a war between Windows and Mac fanboys. But to many people, that statement was justified – OS X was considerably ahead of Windows from a design and usability standpoint.

Today, you can see that Microsoft has decided to give a lot more attention to the design of its products. Windows 7 is a testament to that endeavor. It does sadden me that the majority of the UI improvements are derivations or adaptations instead of innovations.

Safari 4 hasn’t suffered radical changes since the beta version – except maybe for the tabs issue which generated a considerable amount of uproar – but it did a fantastic job of polishing rough edges. Safari 4 is fast, usable and has taste.

Let’s dig in a little deeper, shall we?

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Unlike earlier versions of Safari for Windows, this iteration integrates beautifully with the default themes in Windows XP, Vista and even Windows 7. Whether we believe that “the new Nitro JavaScript engine that executes JavaScript nearly eight times faster than IE 8 and more than four times faster than Firefox 3″ or that it “loads HTML web pages more than three times faster than IE 8 and three times faster than Firefox 3″ is up to each one of us and the guys who benchmark milliseconds. It does however feel faster than Firefox and IE8 and about the same as Chrome 2.04.

For many of you running Windows 7 (if you aren’t, what are you waiting for? Here’s how to upgrade The Ultimate 'Upgrade To Windows 7' Guide The Ultimate 'Upgrade To Windows 7' Guide Read More ), Safari 4 has another surprise – it works with the Aero Peek feature the same way IE8 does. The latest stable version of Firefox 3 does not support this capability.

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As for the Top Sites view, I can’t really decide what to think about it. It’s not particularly useful – like the integration with Aero Peek – but it does look good and does not impede my usual browsing habits. Use it for a couple of hours, maybe a day, and the most visited websites will be nicely presented when you open a new tab. And, believe it or not, this Minority Report style interface doesn’t take any longer to load than a new blank tab in Firefox. What is useful is the Cover Flow view for History – it makes finding websites a snap for people with good visual memory.

Another aspect that persuaded me to switch to Safari was the layout of the interface elements – compact, streamlined, bare bones – modifications that I did myself in Firefox. Even the menu bar is hidden to save space. However, I didn’t manage to convince the bookmark list to stay on the side in Safari, a perk for wide screen displays.

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Thanks to an AdBlock list and a CSS file designed for Opera by Fanboy you can now disable most of ads. All you have to do is download Element Hider CSS file and go to Preferences -> Advanced -> Style Sheet ““> Other. Select the CSS file you just downloaded. Remember though that you’re undermining the revenue model for MakeUseOf and the writers behind it as well as other web publications.

The only thing that’s missing from Safari right now is an add-on similar to NoScript 10+ Best Firefox Security and Privacy Addons 10+ Best Firefox Security and Privacy Addons Read More . At that point, Safari is just an upgraded version of Firefox (without getting into a technical discussion about the different rendering engines, Gecko versus WebKit).

All the graphical candy takes a toll on the system memory. While I can’t say it’s a memory leak or something else, Safari with 4 tabs open consumed about 200MB of memory repeatedly. Firefox isn’t far behind with a jump from 90Mb to 160MB – one hour staying in idle mode.

You can also read my review of the Safari 4 beta Safari 4 Beta Browser: Why Is Everyone Hating It? Safari 4 Beta Browser: Why Is Everyone Hating It? Read More as well as other posts related to Safari. Tell us in the comments what browser you use, why you like it and of course, your impressions on Safari 4.

  1. V.Claudiu
    December 2, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Safari needs more ram than Mozilla. It looks like a quality product from Apple. If you need to juice your pc like me than stick to good old mozi. But if you have a good pc give it a chance.

  2. V.Claudiu
    December 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I love firefox but I need to know if Safari is lighter on resources. But I doubt it. If it is please tell me.

  3. fairtime
    December 1, 2009 at 4:52 am

    also switched to safari 4 when it was released. Love the streamlined look & feel and havn't looked back since

    ure

  4. frankkkko
    June 28, 2009 at 6:35 am

    i love the look-and-feel of safari a lot, but i can't switch from firefox because it doesn't have a free and easy way to sync the bookmarks between more computers (like foxmarks does on firefox) and there's no way to automatically download all the images/media from a website, like i can do with flashGot or downThemAll... otherwise, it's a great browser.

  5. rahhb.riley
    June 27, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Mac User - Really trying to like and use Safari 4 cause I'm one of those lame asses that will buy anything with a shinny apple on it. But I'm afraid I can't go on, Firefox beats Safari in every aspect that is important to me. On many issues they are equal. Occasionally I have found Safari to play a few videos better (ESPN Sports center will play continuously on Safari but not FF, weird?) and will have an occasional website displayed better that FireFox for mac can't handle. But the overall speed of FF is way better than Safari. Sometimes photos on Safari may load 5-10 seconds slower than everything else. FF's add-ons will also keep me with FireFox, I just open Safari now when I need it. If Safari can fix load times and gets add-ons I'll start using it again.

    • rahhb.riley
      June 27, 2009 at 8:35 pm

      -In addition: Firefox's newer feature that allows you to store you password AFTER you login (or unsuccessfully login) is a big plus. If I enter something wrong on Safari, then find out it was wrong, it's just a pain in my ass to go delete it. Just one of those small things that added up with everything else, will keep me with Firefox.

  6. Wilko
    June 27, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    i've used safari 4 for some time and it just is faster. no doubt. but i'm switching again to FireFox because of (a) the add-ons and (b) some of my daily routine websites aren't optimalized for safari 4, like my bank. the 2nd point annoys me the most.

  7. Jae B.
    June 27, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Yes, it's time to switch from Firefox...to Flock. Like Safari, it's more streamlined and less sluggish than Firefox. But because it's based on Firefox, the best of Firefox's famed extensions work on Flock. Also, Flock has nifty built-in social networking apps, so you can spend more time surfing the web and less time trying to stay "checked in" on multiple networking sites. I've been using Flock for about four years (beta versions), and it is by far my favorite browser, and I've extensively used Firefox, Safari (including trying Safari 4), AOL, IE, Seamonkey, and even Opera. Flock is not only a fun browser; it's fast, it's useful, and it's getting better with every new version.

  8. 8498693
    June 27, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    I think Firefox is outstanding and have no use for anything Apple.

    • Howie
      June 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm

      Then why read this article?

  9. Mike Jackiw
    June 27, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    I have used all the browsers and the problem with Firefox is, like IE, it's grown too big and is doing too much. People keep talking about add-ons, widgets, etc. Are you using a web browser or an OS? Firefox has never really fixed it's memory leak (not even in 3.5) and it still can't fully pass acid3 or javascripting tests.

    That being said Safari 3 sucked. It was slow, failed most tests, and didn't perform even as well as IE6. But Safari 4 is a different story. It's tight, it is the only browser that passes all test 100% and is fully compatible with IE-centric sites, and it's FAST. Opera fails all the tests miserably with IE8 even worse. I have now switched to Safari 4 on my WinXP, Win7, and OSX boxes and am not looking back.

  10. Ben
    June 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    People who suddenly decide they can do without extensions and switch from Firefox 3 to Browser X have far more impetus to switch to Google Chrome rather than Safari 4.

    Short of the occasional widget, Safari's real strengths are its rendering engine and its javascript engine, both of which are met or exceeded by Chrome.

  11. Jason
    June 27, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Firefox 3 does, in fact, work with Aero Peak. I am using it right now on Win 7 RC1 Build 7100. It also worked with the Public Beta version.

  12. Simon
    June 27, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Since I am using a Macbook, I decided to try the beta version of Safari 4. While I liked the new interface, it just wasn't enough for me to make want to switch. Since then, I have noticed some improvement after it came out of beta. However, I still prefer Firefox for a couple reasons. It may be slower, but has a whole library of add-ons that will always keep it in front. Second, it is cross-platform, so Firefox looks great no matter what OS you're using. Apple software tend to be better on Apple products. Lastly, Firefox has constant updates and brings new features when they are needed.

  13. Richard
    June 27, 2009 at 5:21 am

    Switch to Safari from Firefox? Surely this is only intended as link bait. No rational, experienced computer user would ever consider Safari as superior to Firefox, especially with Firefox 3.5rc3 and the final version soon to be released.

    • Marc
      October 19, 2009 at 8:47 pm

      Surely you are mistaken.... I was a long time FF user on all of my Windows computers. When I switched to Mac I downloaded FF immediately and had strong reservations about using it on my MacBook. It seemed clunky and unpolished. And i don't need nor care about extensions. Don't get me wrong because FF is great for what it is and it does what it's supposed to do really well. However, Safari is simple, elegant and efficient and it's my browser of choice.

  14. jacekkr
    June 26, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    I've been using Safari 4 as my primary browser for a while now just to try it. While I like the integration with Windows 7's Aero interface, the UI, speed and reliability (it hasn't locked up or slowed down too much yet), I just hate the way it handles tabs. Opening a few more tabs than the width of your screen makes it possible renders Safari 4 virtually unusable.

  15. Miguel Wickert
    June 26, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    I use both. Firefox 3.5 seems faster on my Macbook than Safari 4. It's close but I'm a fan of Ubiquity, along with tons of other Firefox extensions. :) Again, I still use both because for me, Safari is less of a distraction.

    -Mig

  16. jollyrogue
    June 26, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Firefox 3.5 is faster than safari 4 on my laptop.. i'll be sticking with FF and uninstalling safari.. waste of bandwidth.

    I've already got two bits of apple software i don't really want on my laptop.. don't want more

    • Barry
      July 22, 2009 at 5:49 pm

      "I’ve already got two bits of apple software i don’t really want on my laptop.. don’t want more"

      no one has made you use the software. i am presuming you chose to install it

  17. Tom2
    June 26, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Safari 4 is by far the better choice.

  18. tayker
    June 26, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I switched from Firefox to Safari 4 and am happy with my decision.

    On any computer I have (Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X, Linux Mint) Firefox becomes sluggish after an hour of use, so I have to close it - sometimes using Task Manager or killing a process - and reopen it. Even though Safari 4 might be comparable with Firefox IRT memory, I've had a browser open all day without any issues. Also, nothing aggravates me more than trying to type something up online and Firefox suddenly closes. It feels good not having to have a text editor open when I'm surfing the web.

  19. jer
    June 26, 2009 at 11:10 am

    You didn't say anything about security issues with Safari.

  20. Mike Woodhouse
    June 26, 2009 at 11:02 am

    No Firebug, no sale.

    As a "power" user, I'd be loathe to install Safari anyway, having had less-than stellar experiences with other Apple apps on Windows - I just don't like the rude way they assume they know best. Maybe QuickTime and iTunes are the only bad Apples, but twice bitten, thrice shy.

  21. BooDy
    June 26, 2009 at 10:44 am

    @ Phaoloo:
    u gotta try Firefox 3.5
    its lighter than before!

  22. Aoi_sora9x
    June 26, 2009 at 9:31 am

    I will stay with my Firefox, firstly because of add-ons, secondly because of its minimum RAM usage. I know RAMs are cheap nowadays, but as a person who runs 2 2D graphic softwares (usually Photoshop and Manga Studio) and 1 3D graphic software (C4D) at the same time, I just don't have RAM to spare.

    Moreover, the eye-candies are too much IMO. :/ and i don't like the way Apple abuses the cover flow. It hasn't ever been the most practical function, and it feels cheap after a while. :/

    and i find this statement a bit intriguing:

    "But to many people, that statement was justified – OS X was considerably ahead of Windows from a design and usability standpoint."

    It all depends on ur taste for the UI, and what you do with ur computer. I think you are just assuming too much here.

    • Michael
      June 27, 2009 at 1:33 pm

      "I will stay with my Firefox, firstly because of add-ons, secondly because of its minimum RAM usage."

      BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

      Firefox routinely grabs over 400 MBs from my system with just one window and 8 tabs open. Just let it sit for awhile. It'll find a way to take your RAM.

  23. Phaoloo
    June 26, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Really want to switch from Firefox, but how about the add-ons? That's why many people still have to stick with Firefox.

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