Category Archives: Web

Safari on Windows: What effect will it have on Opera?

SafariFollowing up on my previous post, Apple just dropped a bombshell: the Safari web browser is now available for Windows. I’ve posted some general reactions at K-Squared Ramblings as to how it will benefit web developers and users overall. The most obvious is that Windows-only web designers will no longer have an excuse for not testing in Safari, which might help break the two-browser mindset.

But what about Opera, specifically?

I remember when Apple first announced Safari for the Mac, Opera was very upset that Apple had decided to go their own way instead of licensing Opera as the new default browser. In retrospect, both sides were right: Apple was right to choose something that they could maintain themselves, without being dependent on an outside provider. (I guess they’d learned their lesson from Internet Explorer.) Opera was right that they lost a golden opportunity: as the default browser on MacOS, Safari has since become the most-used browser on that platform and the third-most-used browser overall, surpassing Opera’s marketshare.

So there’s certainly a risk that Safari on Windows could surpass Opera’s users. However, there is one significant difference: Safari is not the default browser on Windows. It’s hard to tell how much of Safari’s uptake on MacOS is due to it being the default, and how much is due to people actively liking it. Personally, I have Opera, Firefox, and a half-dozen other browsers on my PowerBook, but when I fire that box up, I generally use Safari.

If you look at the functionality available in a base install, from simplest to most complex, it probably starts with Safari, runs through Firefox and IE, then finishes with Opera. Firefox has a wide array of extensions available — in fact, it’s pretty much known for them. Safari isn’t nearly as extensible. You can’t install something that will add mouse gestures, for instance.

I suspect that, at least at first, the audience for Safari on Windows will consist mainly of the following groups:

  • Web Developers
  • Dual-platform users who are used to Safari on Mac
  • People who just want a basic browser and don’t want bells and whistles, but don’t want IE for some reason

If anything, I think Firefox has more to worry about than Opera. For every Firefox user who tricks out his browser with every 1337 extension he can find, there are probably many who just wanted something more stable than IE, or faster than IE. There’s a vocal faction of Firefox users who are frustrated with its performance. I don’t know why they haven’t jumped ship to Opera, but depending on how much memory Safari uses when it gets out of beta, it might prove a threat on that front.

Further reading:

*This post originally appeared on Confessions of a Web Developer, my blog at the My Opera community.

Safari on Windows

SafariWow. I have to admit I was not expecting this at all, but Apple has just announced they’re releasing the Safari web browser for Windows.

Increased consumer choice, of course, is a good thing. The most immediate benefit, though, is that Windows-based web developers (the majority) who haven’t been willing to buy a Mac to test their sites in Safari will be able to do full testing on all four major rendering engines: Trident (IE), Gecko (Mozilla/Firefox/etc.), Webkit (Safari) and Presto (Opera).

Also, there’s some really cool stuff available in recent versions of WebKit that will be great to have available for a wider audience.

Interesting thought: this may be the first browser released since Opera expanded to Linux in ~2000 that is available in the same version on Windows and Mac, but not Linux. Even when Internet Explorer was available for the Mac, it used a different engine than the Windows version did.

I wonder what impact this will have on the development of Swift. Its main claim to fame was porting WebKit to Windows, and it’s been months since their last release.

I also wonder what the status is on re-merging the KHTML and WebKit forks. It’s gotten to the point that Konquerer is only an approximation of Safari, making testing on Linux a little harder than it used to be.

(via Asa Dotzler)

No doubt there’s a 500-comment Slashdot discussion already.

Update: Slashdot’s all over it, and Opera Watch has a thread going as well.

Update 2: I’ve posted my thoughts on the implications for Opera. There’s an update at CSS3.info, where they have previews of upcoming CSS features available in Safari 3.

Update 3: I’ve updated the Alternative Browser Alliance to reflect Safari’s new status. This also solves a nagging doubt I’ve had as to whether the default browser on Mac OS should really be considered “alternative.” On Windows, it definitely is.

Update 4: The Webkit team and Web Standards Project have weighed in. The Windows version of WebKit should be available later today, which will be nice for following progress on issues as it moves from beta toward final version. It turns out there’s a regression and at least the Windows version no longer renders the Acid2 test correctly.

Update 5: The author of Swift says that Swift isn’t going away [edit: the blog has since vanished], and points out that “Swift renders more like a Windows Application, both in the GUI and in WebKit. Safari, looks just like OS X, similar to iTunes 6 and below.” Ever since Apple started porting apps to Windows, I’ve found something odd: A common complaint about third-party Mac software is that it doesn’t look and feel native (one of the big reasons we have Camino as well as Firefox), yet when Apple ports their own apps to Windows, it makes them look exactly the same as they do on Mac OS instead of making them work like native apps. I mentioned this to Katie yesterday and she suggested it might be a case of turnabout being fair play.

Power of Suggestion

Surfin’ Safari posted an interesting remark that highlights the power of suggestion.

There’s a tip floating around to speed up the Safari web browser by changing a hidden setting, “page load delay.” There are testimonials by people who are really impressed with how much faster Safari is after making this change. Only one problem: The setting doesn’t exist anymore in current versions of Safari (1.3 or later), so changing it has no effect.

The author of the shareware tool in question responded, saying that he honestly had no idea that the setting had been removed, and offering a refund to anyone who wanted their money back. And there are a couple of other optimizations it can make.

There are some things that the human mind just isn’t good at measuring objectively, and perception of time depends very much on circumstance. “Time flies when you’re having fun” and “A watched pot never boils” have been known for ages.

Unlikely Partnership

Here’s a surprise: web standardista extraordinaire Molly Holzschlag is now working with Microsoft to promote web standards within the organization.

Improving interoperability, especially at high-profile services like many of Microsoft’s, is critical to the future of the web. I can only hope that the emphasis on standards will feed into the design goals for Internet Explorer 8—and that IE8 will be released before Windows XP drops from mainstream to extended support in 2009.

Feeds in Google results?

Does anyone know how to convince Google to prefer an HTML page over an RSS feed when serving standard search results?

With the demise of the Jamie Jack and Stench show, Another One Bites the Dust has shot back up to the top 5 pages on the site. It turns out it’s the #7 hit on Google for “jamie jack and stench.” Oddly, the comments feed for Alternative to Music? is #8. Not the post itself, which includes all the same comments, but the feed.

I don’t want to keep the feeds out of Google’s index — if someone’s looking for feeds, and mine happen to be relevant, I want them to show up. But if someone’s looking for web pages, shouldn’t Google bring up the web page with substantially similar content in favor of the feed?