Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Battle to build the best Web browser is on for Apple's Safari

The browser battle gets any weirder, here comes Steve Jobs appearing onto the scene and aggressively wants to be on top again.

If last year's release of Safari for Windows seemed like an experiment, Apple's release of a beta version of Safari 4 for Mac and Windows makes it clear this is going to be the messiest fight over other web browsers. Currently, Microsoft's Internet Explorer owns 67.6% of the browser market, followed by Mozilla's Firefox with 21.5%, Apple's Safari with 8.3%, Google's Chrome with 1.1% and Opera with 0.7%, according to NetApplications.

Data Source:

Safari 4's headline feature: Nitro, a Javascript engine that Apple boasts will run Javascript 4.2 times faster than was possible on its previous browser, Safari 3. Running Javascript quickly and reliably is the key to making ever more sophisticated Web-based applications work well, with Mozilla and Google among those touting the speed and stability of their Javascript efforts. It also includes Coverflow, a uniquely Apple touch that will be familiar to anyone with an iPod. The feature allows browsers to look through their Web history or bookmarks as if they were flipping through a shelf full of record albums.

The software also puts tabs for bouncing from one page to the next at the top of the browser window. And similar to Google's Chrome, Safari 4 offers previews of your favorite pages that you can go to with a single click. The best feature, though, could be simply that the browser, a free download, definitely came from Apple: It just plain looks nice.

It would be fair to say we're now living in the golden age of the Web browser. That's a big change from just a few years ago, when the browser market was stagnant, and Internet Explorer is all we got.

Here is a preview of Apple's Safari 4:


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