Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Monday, June 11, 2007

Apple Safari 3 Doesn't Really Suck

This week Apple released a public beta of a Window version of its browser software called Safari 3. Apple claims to already have 5% of the browser market share so they’re hoping to expand this by going after Windows competitors like IE, Firefox and Opera.

Now that Apple has so many people running iTunes on Windows they hope it will help them infiltrate other product categories. I’m not a Mac user but there was a time I developed applications for Apple so I have a professional respect. I also like being a know-it-all so I downloaded Safari 3 and decided to give it a shot.

I expected to have a lot of complaints but so far the experience hasn’t been horrible. Apple’s claim that Safari is “up to 2 times faster than Internet Explorer” is hard to test but it wasn’t any slower. It loads up quickly and has a small footprint both on the screen and in memory usage.

My biggest concern was that Apple was going to install some of their other favorite software, including QuickTime which insists on making itself an autostartup program. I was glad to see that including QuickTime was a download option.

Nice that Apple gives me a choice to not download QuickTime

My real surprise and thrill came when I saw a setup dialog which allowed me to choose if I wanted their Bonjour service and if I wanted their Auto Update program to be installed. If you’ve read my Blog before you know how I feel about Auto Update programs. Three Cheers for APPLE!!! If the default was Unchecked I’d give them four cheers.

Yay Apple for giving users a real choice. Would be nicer is the default checkbox was off.
If checked, Apple Software Update will be added to the Run registry and will check for new versions of QuickTime, iTunes and Safari. Unlike QuickTime, it can later be removed without a struggle.

Now for what annoys me

Apple insists on using their own Human Interface Guidelines even when they create programs for Windows users. While their buttons are intuitive for Mac users, they should adjust the UI for folks used to Windows standards.

Safari Add Bookmark Dialog
Apple interface on a Windows machine is just wrong
Notice the Cancel button is on the
left and Add(the action button) is
on the right most position per Apple
Human Interface Guidelines.

Add Bookmark on Firefox 2
Firefox Add Bookmark screen uses standard Windows interface
As typical Windows users, we’re all acclimated to
the Cancel button being on the right or bottom.
The “Action” button it to the left of it.

There are still plenty of other tests I need to make but it’s worth the effort. If you’d like to try Safari 3, you can download it yourself at

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Blogger Cd-MaN said...

[sarcasm]Wohoo, no auto-update![/sarcasm]

As I commented in your last post which touched on this subject: how exactly do you expect to know when a new version comes out which fixes vulnerabilities unless you let the software check? Just look at the recent Yahoo! Messenger vulnerabilities or the claims that there are already 7 or so vulnerabilities in the Windows version of Safari (DoS and arbitrary code execution!). How would you know about a fix for these? You maybe are reading Full Disclosure and the thousands of other sources out there, but most of the people are not (most of the people are not even aware of their existence), and even if you do, chances are that you miss some postings.

While the current system has it flaws (most notably that it bogs down the system and fills the tray with all kinds of flashy icons, the solution (IMHO) is not to stop these programs, but to (a) create a pluggable architecture which abstracts away most of the code and each program adds plugins to it - based on Windows Update or (b) schedule these programs to run at predefined time intervals (once a day for example). Both of these solutions would reduce the performance impact but

2:31 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Thank you for taking the time to share your comment. I very much appreciate having an alternate view because I know not everyone will agree with me on this topic. I want my readers to hear both sides and you bring up intelligent points.

Your comments are timely considering security researchers already claim to have found multiple security issues with Safari. :)

My hatred of autoupdates are based on my own risk-analysis opinion. There is no perfect world but at this time I consider the risk of faulty updates to exceed the risk of security holes.

Can you imagine what would have happen if the recent Symantec Chinese update failure occurred in the US? It would have shut down powergrids, communication companies, and countless other computers used in our countries infrastructure.

As a developer I'm baffled by the number of security holes being exposed. For over two years the Microsoft SDK has provided string functions which are designed to prevent any buffer overflow errors. There's no reason any new program in Windows especially from Microsoft should be prone to this type of error.

It's just sloppy programming and these are the same programmers releasing updates. I'm not completely against updates but in most cases, I will continue to recommend my friends and family wait 7-10 days before updating. By then a critical mass of public testers should know if the update is safe.


11:44 AM  
Blogger Cd-MaN said...

My arguments are primarily based on the home user segment who isn't tech-savvy enough to even know that these problems exists. The users of your software most probably don't fall into this category. And big organizations (either public or private) shouldn't either. I really hope that the computers which control the power grid and other critical infrastructure are physically separated from any remote access (aka airgapped) and sysadmins are watching out for them who can follow the stream of patches, but this may just be daydreaming :).

To reiterate: my main concern is the home user who bought a computer for whatever reason, but doesn't have the knowledge necessary to secure it (or even to know that it needs to be secured - the common conception about the PC is that's it like a TV - it should work out of the box) and gets high speed Internet and then becomes part of a botnet performing DoS, spam and other such fun stuff. These kind of systems are the main source of problems these days.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a PC/Windows operating system. Large HD, and 512Megs of RAM. I have Firefox, Netscape 9, Opera, and IE installed..I DID give Safari 3 a thorough ringing out and compared to Firefox, Netscape, and Opera, Safari sucks. Its functionality sucks, its interface has a prehistoric feel and look to it. It has none of the capabilities of extensions or add ons enjoyed by conventional browsers. It crashed everyime I tried to report a bug, or bookmark a website. In spite of Apple's claims, its performance falls below that of Firefox.

I was always curious about the hype over MAC, but after sampling this poor example of Apple software, I can definitely say there will never be a MAC in my future. Not if Safari is representative of Apple engineering.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a PC/Windows operating system. Large HD, and 512Megs of RAM. I have Firefox, Netscape 9, Opera, and IE installed..I DID give Safari 3 a thorough ringing out and compared to Firefox, Netscape, and Opera, Safari is ok

Its functionality is simple and straight forth.Its interface has a prehistoric feel and look to it, which is a vast improvemnet over the junk out there.
Another big plus is that it has none of the extensions or add ons poluting conventional browsers.

i believe Apple is on the right track. and is creating a pathway for future application development. Its browse does not need a bunch of junk attached to it.

6:06 PM  

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