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Joel on Software

Apple Safari for Windows: The world's slowest web browser

by Joel Spolsky
Monday, June 11, 2007

Apple is advertising Safari for Windows as “the world’s fastest and easiest-to-use web browser.” Fast, maybe, in page rendering speed, but ridiculously slow to launch... on my brand new, 2.33 GHz Core-2 Duo laptop, it takes an insane amount of time to launch: 57 seconds, during which you don't even get an hourglass, so you don't even know it's launching.

By comparison, Firefox takes about 3 seconds and Internet Explorer takes about 2.

UPDATE: OK, I'm wrong. As far as I can tell, Safari is slow the first (few?) times you run it, while it does something, I don't know what, but once that thing is done, it launches as fast as other browers. Sorry!

Apple is and always has been severely dishonest in all their advertising when it comes to performance. This is the company that spent years telling us that the PowerPC was faster than Intel, only, suddenly, to change their claims midsentence without an explanation when reality caught up with them, in a scene almost exactly like the scene in 1984: “Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not Eurasia was the enemy.”

This is the company that's about to release the iPhone on a slow, last-generation data network but is running TV ads that have edited out all downloads and waiting time that network entails.

These products may be cool, but I don't understand why Apple should be allowed to lie so blatently in their advertising about performance and get away with it. I'm sorry, but a web browser that takes a minute to launch is not going to win any converts on Windows.

PS I know; the Apple press release about how "fast" Safari is refers to "page rendering speed." Frankly, that is almost completely irrelevant given that the bottleneck in displaying pages is mostly download speed and network throughput. Another case where the big print giveth and the fine print taketh away, it adds up to one thing: a lie.

PPS Yes, I know it's a beta. Eventually, the Safari programmers will figure out the preloading tricks that IE and Firefox use to get quick startup time (at the cost of slow Windows startup; Raymond Chen explains it here). In the meantime, when Apple's marketing team goes around making untrue claims about performance, they make the company look like liars, not innovators.

PPPS Safari even managed to bring the inferior font rendering of the OS X platform to Windows, no easy trick.

PPPPS Safari for Windows means we don't have to buy as many Macs for compatibility testing.

PPPPPS 20 minutes later: The more I run Safari on Vista, the faster it launches. Am I hallucinating? Is there a cosmic force that means just when I complain about Safari taking 57 seconds to launch, as soon as that complaint is made public, it launches much more quickly? Am I going insane? Or is someone playing a clever prank on me? It's this kind of epistemological, reality-shifting shit that makes me not want to blog any more. We are at war with Eastasia. We were always at war with Eastasia. 2+2=5, and I love Steve Jobs.


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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, easy web-based collaboration software, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracking and software development tool, and Kiln, a distributed source control system that will blow your socks off. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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