So Apple thinks Safari is a good browser. Internet Explorer is the 500-pound gorilla. FireFox is the upstart, open-source, viva la revolucion, browser. Opera is, well, Opera. Are there differences? Does it matter?
In order, yes there are some differences and it sort of matters.
They all are going to take you to the same pages. They all are going to let you search. So in that sense, it’s not that big a deal.
I already had IE7 loaded on my computer, so I downloaded the newest version of Safari (beta), FireFox (22.214.171.124) and Opera (9.21). They were installed within 30 minutes of each other. All 3 installed flawlessly, including picking up some tricky proxy settings from the Internet Explorer connections settings.
There are differences in how pages display. While this is somewhat subjective, I think that, in order, the displays go to Internet Explorer, then FireFox, then Opera, then Safari pretty far behind. The links are a sample screen shot of the same page in each of the browsers.
- Internet Explorer has the advantage in that a lot of sites are designed to look good in IE over anything else. It is never the worst looking page, and usually the best looking overall. Sometimes Safari does a better job especially with larger headline and caption fonts. It is not as fast as FireFox to refresh a page, but faster than Opera and Safari.
- FireFox does a good job on matching the vertical and horizontal spacing of IE, but uses a slightly different font set that may not be as appealing. Usually, body text is fine, but larger headlines and captions can be pretty bad – sometimes the worst of the bunch. It is the fastest to refresh a page.
- Opera displays the fonts better than FireFox, but it’s vertical spacing is way different than FireFox or Internet Explorer. It is pretty fast, but not noticeable faster than IE, and slower than FireFox. It also does not have a home page button out of the box. You have to add it to your toolbar.
- Safari for Windows is a beta, so I am not that upset yet. It has the most inconsistent display fonts. Some pages look great (maybe the best of the bunch) and some pages look horrible (the worse of the bunch.) The vertical spacing is better than Opera, but still tighter than FireFox and IE. It had the sllloooowwwwest refresh rate of any of them. It also does not have a home page button out of the box. You have to add it to your toolbar.
So, what does this mean?
- Internet Explorer is still the browser to beat.
- FireFox could be the browser to do it, but it is just short of slaying the Microsoft beast. I can certainly see using this as your primary browser.
- Opera is still pretty niche. It’s vertical spacing problem really can mess up the comparisons.
- If the full release version of Safari is not a vast improvement over this beta version, skip it.
Tomp.s. This is ongoing project. I will make updates to this post or add comments as appropriate