Safari 3 beta for Windows now available

Safari 3

Big news from the Apple camp – Safari is now available for Windows! For Windows-based web designers this is exciting news, meaning it is now possible to test websites in Safari without needing a Mac at hand. The final version of Safari 3 will be released later this year, but you can get your hands on the beta version right now.

I’ve just installed Safari on my Vista machine, and it seems to run a treat. I will need to do side-by-side testing with a Mac to confirm that there is parity between the two platforms, but assuming the Windows version renders web pages identically to its Mac counterpart we can look forward to a greatly simplified testing workflow.

I’m unsure of the specific rendering improvements that have been made in this latest version of Safari, and whether testing sites in Safari 3 will be an adequate substitute for testing in earlier versions of the browser. If not, access to a Mac will still be required to test sites in Safari 2 or earlier.

User interface gripes

Aside from the cross-platform testing advantages, I’m yet to be convinced that Safari provides an attractive alternative to the Windows browsers that are currently available.

Safari 3 GUI

The application interface is somewhat irksome, favoring Apple’s GUI over Vista’s Aero interface. It is only possible to resize the browser window using the small drag area at the bottom right of the interface, compared to the usual windows method of dragging anywhere along the window’s edge. Similarly the minimize/maximize/close buttons look clunky and small compared with the normal Vista buttons. It doesn’t surprise me that Apple have tried to shoehorn their signature look and feel into the Windows GUI, as they previously did with Quicktime and iTunes, but it does mean that the application fails to integrate seamlessly with Windows.

I have also found Safari’s font rendering to be less than impressive. Text appears more ‘chunky’ than in other browsers, and poor anti-aliasing is applied to many fonts (Arial, for example).

Hopefully by the time Safari 3 is out of beta Apple will have fixed these quirks. In the meantime the job of giving a site a quick once-over in Safari just got a whole lot simpler.

Update 12 June 2007: Several security vulnerabilities have already been identified in the Safari/PC beta, so if you are considering using it as your major browser, think twice.