Contrary to Apple's claims, the newest version of Safari is not the world's fastest browser, benchmark scores show. But it is dramatically faster than rivals being built by Mozilla and Microsoft.
[ InfoWorld's Test Center previews Safari 4 -- and likes what it sees. | How do Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and IE stack up when it comes to security? For the full Test Center rundown on browser security, see InfoWorld's special report. ]
That new engine was most in evidence when Safari 4's scores are compared to those of Safari 3.2.2, the current shipping version on Windows: The beta of Safari 4 was about 3.7 times faster.
Safari 4 also proved faster than the newest Firefox, a nightly build in the run-up to Firefox 3.1, although at just 38 percent faster its edge was much smaller.
It easily beat Firefox 3.0.6, Mozilla's production browser, and IE8 Release Candidate 1 (RC1), Microsoft's latest public release of its still-under-construction successor to the three-year-old IE7. According to SunSpider's tests, Safari 4 is nearly 3.5 times faster than Firefox and about 5.6 times faster than IE8.
"We're at the point, with what people do in the browser, that users can't really tell the difference between browsers," he has argued. "Beyond building a performance lab, which we've done, it's very difficult to tell which browser is fastest. The reality is that for most users, they'll all be comparable."
On the Mac, where Safari doesn't have to compete with Google -- Chrome has yet to be ported to Apple's operating system -- the beta of version 4 is almost twice as fast as Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 and nearly four times faster than Firefox 3.0.6, according to SunSpider tests run on a 2.4GHz "unibody" MacBook.
Computerworld is an InfoWorld affiliate.