Mac Browser Smackdown

Ars Technica has an excellent side-by-side comparison of the nine (yup, nine) browsers currently available for OS X. Interesting to see that Safari is no longer fastest browser available (though it’s a heck of a lot faster than IE). Mozilla edges Safari on speed, by a hair. But Safari still came out on the top of the stack for a host of other reasons.

There was a thread here on birdhouse a while ago in which a few people said they were finding sites that didn’t render properly in Safari. I countered that I was having trouble finding any and hadn’t launched IE in a long time. The next day I did have some trouble using a complex multi-part form in Safari and had to switch to IE to get the job done, but haven’t had trouble since then. The Ars reviewer says virtually the same thing:

The current version [of IE] feels like a quick and dirty port to OS X and has some problems with more complex web pages. It’s a shame that this is still the default browser in OS X installations. … Thankfully, those days are over. I cannot remember the last time I had to launch it to access a web site. There is really no good reason to use this anymore.

My thoughts exactly (I also agree with the reviewer that the Mozilla-based browsers are crash-y and inelegant compared to Safari). After some disagreement at work (my colleagues are unconcerned with speed issues, more concerned that students would be confused by the transition to another browser … whatever) we decided to install both IE and Safari in the Dock and let students choose. So far they seem to be using about 70% Safari, informally measured.

5 Replies to “Mac Browser Smackdown”

  1. Have you tried Firebird? It’s quickly become my default browser. I don’t know why – maybe something about my setup – but Safari is very flaky for me. Camino had its problems too, but Firebird seems very stable. My only drag right now is that command-clicking doesn’t bring up a tab as in Camino but I keep doing it anyway.

    I was hoping my problems with Safari would go away when 1.0 came out but that was not the case. Lately I rarely fire it up and when I do I frequently have to bail out. Fortunately, I use IE even more rarely these days.

  2. I’d be using Firebird full-time if middle-clicking opened a new tab (one of my old-school gripes with Safari which has since been fixed). I love firebird, and look forward to that sole stumbling block being removed for me.

    In the interim, however, I am using Safari… I encounter sites that don’t render right pretty reliably. For instance, one I ran into just today:

    But nothing that keeps me from doing what I need to do. Safari is nice, but I still prefer the UI of Firebird, as well as the flexibility of the Mozilla platform.

  3. Safari uses portions of Mozilla code. I can’t use the same instance of Safari for more than a day before odd things happen, like it can’t actually empty my Hotmail junk box, that sort of thing. We’ll see what 10.3 brings as far as a Safari build; if it’s the same as the on in 10.2.6 I’ll be going to something straight from the Mozilla group. Something not in Brushed Metal.

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