I gotta say Wow! to Firefox 3. I installed the most recent beta on my Windows box and it is really nice. I don’t use that computer every day but in my short tests it is a truly superior browser.
I installed IE 8 beta, Opera 9.5 beta, Firefox 3 beta, and Safari 3.1 beta. Thought I would get a taste of what the future of browsing on Windows is. I find (and this is subjective, your milage may vary) that IE and Firefox offer the superiour experience over Opera and Safari. I tested them all in Vista both in Aero mode and in classic mode.
Opera has done nothing to change the UI from previous versions which makes it seem out dated. The navigation bar between the tabs bar and the main window is a major distraction. Opera’s UI is definitely more at home in classic mode. I did not try out the new features. Opera is still the far and away most feature complete out of the box web browser.
Safari looks the same in both windows modes and is basically the Leopard look. It is out of place and fugly in both modes. It is too dark when it has focus, Apple should have gone with the lighter non focus color. Except for the much discussed sub par font rendering and the entire UI, Safari is a fine browser. The main blocks to my getting used to Safari is its lack of opening with the previous tabs open feature and the lack of adherence to the keyboard shortcuts used by the other browsers.
IE takes the 7 edition UI and tweaks it in minor ways. I think the UI of 7.0 is the beginning of the new UI for web browsers in general. I don’t run IE, I hate malware and I just don’t get it in Firefox. I run no aditional security software on Vista (or on XP sp2 and beyond.) It has been years since I have had viri or malware. IE is the best looking browser using Aero but its looks fade in classic mode.
Firefox remains my top pick. It is solid and much more integrated with the OS in both Aero and classic modes. The visual changes are all a step in the right direction, I give the mozilla monsters credit for advancing this browser to the next level. I would like to see Thunderbird get this kind of love. I am currently not running version 3 on my main desktop, too worried of borking my system with conflicts in the repos. But I think I will get lots of use of running Prism as an extension–this feature will clearly be well worth the price of admission.
All four of these browsers show that the web is not standing still and neither is our way of using it.
Edit: One thing is clear from this quick look, Apple will not gain significant market share by including Safari as an update to Quicktime. I personally installed it as an update to iTunes, but I can’t imagine that I will ever use it. Remember that when S Jobs released Safari for Windows he stated that his goal was to kill off Opera and Firefox and to take a small sliver of IE’s share…he was up front about the objectives, now the method has become clear too.