Safari 6 Released – No Windows Version

Apple have released Safari 6 for Mac OS X Mountain Lion and Lion – but not for Windows (or Mac Snow Leopard). It includes over 100 security fixes and several new features – some are only available in Mountain Lion:

  • Unified smart search field – similar to Chrome i.e. one simple field for both search terms and web addresses
  • Improved performance – Nitro Javascript engine takes advantage of multiple processor cores, new approach to CSS and improved hardware acceleration
  • Better Privacy – optional Do Not Track privacy feature
  • Tab View – Mountain Lion. Pinch to see all your open tabs. Swipe left or right to move between them. And tap a tab to go right to the website.
  • iCloud Tabs – Mountain Lion. iCloud Tabs makes the last websites you had open on your Mac available in Safari on your iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.
  • Built in Sharing – Mountain Lion. Share anything you come across on the web right when you come across it – without leaving Safari.

Windows users can still install Safari 5.1.7 but it appears that Apple have finally given up on Safari development for the Windows platform – the complexity of integrating Safari into the upcoming Windows 8 may have played a large part in that decision.

It is also fair to say that Safari on Windows has always been an extremely niche product, making no headway against the juggernauts of Chrome, IE and Firefox. A rough comparison of StatCounter’s global browser market share for this month reveals that Chrome leads the pack with 34%, IE has 32%, Firefox 24% and Safari just over 7%:

Safari 6

However, Safari’s global figure includes 2.59% from the iOS iPad version – so its total share in the desktop market is just 4.54%. Further, although I can’t find an exact split between Safari’s share on Windows compared to OS X, it is very heavily biased towards Mac OS X (where it is the default browser).

Overall then, Safari probably has less than 1% of the browser market on Windows – this makes it a sensible decision by Apple not to waste valuable development resources on such an insignificant market.

Security Risks

Users of Safari 5 for Windows and Mac OS X Snow Leopard do not have an upgrade path to Safari 6 – which contains more than 100 security fixes.

As those fixes are not available for Safari 5, it leaves users greatly at risk – without ongoing security fixes a browser is far more vulnerable to attack.

For best security Mac users should upgrade to Mountain Lion if possible. Otherwise (and all users of Safari on Windows) switch to a different, more secure modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox or IE (Windows only).

Conclusion

Safari 6 adds several welcome new features and improvements for Mountain Lion and, to a lesser extent, Lion.

The failure to develop a Windows version should not come as a great surprise considering Safari’s rarity in a market totally dominated by three rival browsers.

Indeed, the response to the news amongst the Windows community has generally been one of total indifference – you don’t miss what you never used.

However, leaving existing Windows/Snow Leopard users of Safari 5 stranded on an insecure browser without notice is unacceptable – at the very least Apple should issue an online message warning that Safari 5 is now outdated as it has not received security updates, making it insecure.