Safari comes in from the wild

Initially met with some skepticism, the Windows version of Apple's Safari browser has developed into a strong Web-surfing candidate.

Initially met with some skepticism, the Windows version of Apple's Safari browser has developed into a strong Web-surfing candidate. Previous versions felt unfinished, but Safari 4 can stand should to shoulder with the other major Windows Web browsers--depending on what kind of experience you want.

Safari lacks most customization features. Skins and other aesthetic tweaks exist in the Mac version, but not here. Just about the only thing you can alter is the font. However, the new version represents a radical departure in look and feel, and the changes are for the better. Safari now looks much more like Google Chrome, although the tabs are placed below the navigation bar, not above it. The status bar and menu bar do exist, but they're hidden by default. You can make toolbar changes and customizations by clicking on the gear icon--another similarity to Chrome.

Both browsers are built on the open-source Webkit rendering engine, although they use different JavaScript engines. Safari's Nitro is definitely fast, although Apple's claims that it's the fastest browser on the market might depend more on your hardware than anything else. In our testing, it ran a bit slowly after heavy tab and video playback, and still consumed more RAM in general than Firefox. You can also opt out of automatic updates when you install Safari.

Features unique to Safari 4 include Cover Flow, for visually searching your history and bookmarks, and Top Sites. This presents a "speed dial"-style list of favorites on blank tabs, melded with the visual flair of Cover Flow. There's a decent built-in roboform, too. Overall, this Safari is the best one yet, and graduates from mere Windows-based developers' tool to a reasonable choice for average users.

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