A Tale of Two Safaris: Mac STOMPS Windows

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To my eternal shame, my job requires that I use Windows at work. Lately, that’s been extremely interesting, because I just got a new machine at the office, and it’s spec’d similarly to my beloved 2.4 Ghz Unibody MacBook. That means that I actually get a pretty clear sense of the relative performance of Windows XP v. Mac OS X (what, you expected Vista). Honestly, for most tasks it’s a wash. I don’t do a lot of heavy graphics work on either platform, and web browsing is kind of web browsing. I typically use Chrome (fastest Windows browser) at work and Camino (fastest Mac browser at home).

Today was really interesting, however, because I tried out Safari 4 for Windows before I got to it for Mac. And I was extremely disappointed. It ran no faster than Chrome (maybe a bit slower), and it misrendered at least 50 percent of the sites that I visited — it couldn’t find thumbnail pictures, and it was flat-out ignoring CSS sheets on several sites. Within about an hour of starting use, I uninstalled it and moved back to Chrome. The beta is just about as beta as anything bearing the name I have ever seen. Running the Acid 3 test crashed the browser.

Installing Safari 4 to Mac, however, was as far removed from it as I can imagine. Animations were smooth out of the thumbnail Top Sites page. The browser aced the Acid 3 test on the first try — and each successive one. Twitter loaded like it was an app on my hard drive. A heavily Javascript driven message board I visit popped up faster than anything I’ve seen it since I was on text-based USENET in the mid-90s. It lived up to the hype, and it actually provided a worthy contender to Camino as the best browser on the platform (although I ain’t switching anytime soon; ).

I’m left at a bit of a loss from all of this. On the one hand, I’m delighted to have a blazing-fast new web browser for my Mac. On the other hand, I can’t believe Apple would ship such terrible software for Windows. How are you going to convert anyone when your product is inferior to the status quo?

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