Steve Jobs once said that Microsoft’s products lack “taste”. At the moment, it started a war between Windows and Mac fanboys. But to many people, that statement was justified – OS X was considerably ahead of Windows from a design and usability standpoint.
Today, you can see that Microsoft has decided to give a lot more attention to the design of its products. Windows 7 is a testament to that endeavor. It does sadden me that the majority of the UI improvements are derivations or adaptations instead of innovations.
Safari 4 hasn’t suffered radical changes since the beta version – except maybe for the tabs issue which generated a considerable amount of uproar – but it did a fantastic job of polishing rough edges. Safari 4 is fast, usable and has taste.
Let’s dig in a little deeper, shall we?
For many of you running Windows 7 , Safari 4 has another surprise – it works with the Aero Peek feature the same way IE8 does. The latest stable version of Firefox 3 does not support this capability.
As for the Top Sites view, I can’t really decide what to think about it. It’s not particularly useful – like the integration with Aero Peek – but it does look good and does not impede my usual browsing habits. Use it for a couple of hours, maybe a day, and the most visited websites will be nicely presented when you open a new tab. And, believe it or not, this Minority Report style interface doesn’t take any longer to load than a new blank tab in Firefox. What is useful is the Cover Flow view for History – it makes finding websites a snap for people with good visual memory.
Another aspect that persuaded me to switch to Safari was the layout of the interface elements – compact, streamlined, bare bones – modifications that I did myself in Firefox. Even the menu bar is hidden to save space. However, I didn’t manage to convince the bookmark list to stay on the side in Safari, a perk for wide screen displays.
Thanks to an AdBlock list and a CSS file designed for Opera by Fanboy you can now disable most of ads. All you have to do is download Element Hider CSS file and go to Preferences -> Advanced -> Style Sheet –> Other. Select the CSS file you just downloaded.
The only thing that’s missing from Safari right now is an add-on similar to NoScript. At that point, Safari is just an upgraded version of Firefox (without getting into a technical discussion about the different rendering engines, Gecko versus WebKit).
All the graphical candy takes a toll on the system memory. While I can’t say it’s a memory leak or something else, Safari with 4 tabs open consumed about 200MB of memory repeatedly. Firefox isn’t far behind with a jump from 90Mb to 160MB – one hour staying in idle mode.
Tell us in the comments what browser you use, why you like it and of course, your impressions on Safari 4.