Numerous reports of bugs within the beta of Apple’s latest browser, Safari 3, in both the Mac and Windows versions, make it good to play around with but not to use as your everyday browser.
Although all browsers have security issues uncovered on a relatively regular basis, most of which are rapidly patched up with updates and fixes, the latest beta version of Safari has been put to the test by a number of security researchers, as reported by PC Magazine and others, and is so far failing a lot of security tests.
Problems with Safari uncovered so far include DoS and remote execution bugs, memory corruption that could be exploited, command execution vulnerabilities simply by visiting a web site – and that’s just in the last couple of days. Security researchers are bound to find more bugs in the system, or more ghosts in the machine for Apple to eliminate.
But if the security researchers have been looking for Safari’s vulnerabilities, you can be sure that the ‘bad guys’ are doing the same right now too. Web sites that already carry malware or target unpatched browsers on unpatched or old Windows operating systems will soon start targeting Safari as well.
Undoubtedly, Apple will quickly release fixes and updates for Safari on both the Mac and PC, both before and after the ‘final’ 3.0 release of Safari arrives, just as IE and Firefox do today.
So, should you use Safari on Windows? After all, plenty of Windows users will have downloaded Safari since its release on Monday, and will no doubt have had a surf around to see what it’s like.
It looks and feels just like Safari on the Mac, it’s certainly fun to use. For now, it’s also the latest novelty must-have experience from Apple that Windows users can enjoy. Apple’s download servers must be running hot!
In addition to being the browser-of-the-moment, Safari also heralds a whole new range of Web 2.0 apps that use Safari on Mac OS X, the iPhone and Windows PCs. If the iPhone takes off as expected, and developers create a lot of apps for the iPhone that can be easily made to work on the PC or Mac, Safari use could explode, posing a real threat to both Firefox and Internet Explorer.
But even if the iPhone is a smash hit, it’s unlikely that Safari really will experience truly explosive growth on the PC as those developers should be easily able to port their Web 2.0 apps to an online and offline model, able to be run in a browser window, or able to be independent of browsers at all and run as a normal program, by using Adobe’s AIR and Flex, by using Microsoft’s Silverlight, or by using Google’s Gears.
There are plenty of Firefox fans, after all, on both Windows and OS X, as not all Mac users are enamored with Safari, despite Jobs’ rosy usage figures for Safari in the keynote.
As for Safari 3 beta on Windows – it’s certainly nice to visit and have a bit of a browse around in, just to see what it’s like and to try Apple’s latest Windows compatible software.
But in the absence of some security updates and a final ‘3.0’ version that has undergone extensive bug testing, you wouldn’t want to live in Safari permanently.
Certainly not yet, anyway. Go with Firefox, and if you’re an IE7 user, make sure you get IE7Pro, a free ‘must-have add-on’ that makes IE7 a lot more like Firefox, with crash recovery and more.
But do keep an eye out on Safari. Especially with all the iPhone activity shortly to come, running Safari on Windows and Mac should turn into quite an adventure!