Now, I thought I had enough browsers on my Windows machine. I have IE 7 because you kinda have to. I have Firefox because it is nice. I have Google Chrome because you ignore Google at your peril. I also had Opera but I recently uninstalled it not because it was not good (it is very good) but because I thought I had enough browsers. In the past I drew a line at Safari. To me Safari belonged on an Apple Mac and other gear that boys and girls at One Infinite Loop Way in Cupertino California produce like iPhone where it works like a charm but not for Windows.
Then I saw some very positive words online about the beta for Safari 4 and these were encouraging words from Windows users. We are not talking Apple fan boys. So, yesterday I downloaded Safari 4 Beta and installed it on my Windows XP machine. I was blown away by the slickness of it. If you ever used iTunes you are familiar with cover art. Now imagine using cover art like interface to view your bookmarks and browsing history. It is one of those times when you shout “why didn’t they think of it before!” No, really, why didn’t they think of it before?

Safari 4 bookmarks

Safari 4 bookmarks

Another incredibly useful feature is Top Sites. Basically it is a visualization o the sites where you go often. By itself it is not new. Opera introduced it a couple of years ago. What sets Safari Top Sites apart is how nice it looks. There are certain qualities of the design that only Apple seems to be able to get done right and Top Sites is a good example.

Safari 4 Top Sites

Safari 4 Top Sites

There are other cool features but I don’t have enough ink to go through them. As excited as I was by these new features, I quickly came to a realization that the word “beta” actually means exactly that. I find that Safari 4 is not quite ready for prime time. I encountered multiple bugs in the first couple of hours of use. I use meebo widget on this blog to stay in touch with my readers and I had nothing but trouble getting Meebo.com to work in Safari 4. Apple has a nice “Report bugs to Apple” button prominently displayed in the top right corner of the browser and I made good use of this feature. I think all software should come with a button like that. Oops, we don’t have one like that in DB2 Express-C. That is probably because we don’t expect there to be any bugs :-).
This was my first look at Safari 4 beta. My conclusion is that Safari 4 shows a lot of promise and once it is ready, I will likely make it my primary browser on my Windows machine. For now, I am going to have to rely on IE 7 and Firefox on Windows. On the Mac it may be an entirely different story. We have recently released DB2 Express-C for Mac OS X and I am expecting MacBook Pro to show up some day soon. I will have to give Safari 4 another try on the Mac to see how it holds out.

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