Safari beats IE, Firefox in speed trials

Steve Jobs was right when he said Safari for Windows is fast, says researcher

Safari is faster than rival browsers from Microsoft and Mozilla, a US Web testing firm said this week -- putting proof to Apple's June boast that its browser was the quickest.

Michael Czeiszperger, general manager of Web Performance, used his free time -- and some of WPI's tools -- to measure how fast the Windows versions of Apple's Safari, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) and Mozilla's Firefox 2 grabbed pages.

"I noticed that Apple used canned benchmarks, not actual load time measurements," said Czeiszperger, explaining why he timed the browsers.

Each browser was pointed at the 16 most-trafficked sites as listed by Alexa at the end of August, and the times it took each to render each site recorded. Results over a two-day period, with multiple tests run at different times, were averaged for a final number. The browsers were also timed as they pulled up those sites' saved HTML, which had been placed on a local server. That, explained Czeiszperger, was an attempt to get measurements independent of the vaguarities of Web server loads and Internet traffic conditions.

"In all cases, the Safari 3 Windows beta was the fastest browser in terms of page load time," said Czeiszperger.

But the differences between Safari and IE, and Safari and Firefox, were minimal when the site was pulled from the local cache, not the actual server. "The .2 second difference between Safari beta and Firefox 2, and Safari beta and IE 7 is negligible," Czeiszperger added. "For sites that are accessed frequently, and thus likely to be in a browser's cache, we found no appreciable difference."

When the browsers were pulling a page for the first time, however, Safari was on average 1.1 seconds faster than IE 7, and 1.4 seconds faster than Firefox. "Over a typical 'high speed' connection, this performance increase is likely to be noticeable," said Czeiszperger.

Apple's contention that the beta of Safari 3 for Windows loads pages up to twice as fast as its rivals, however, is a bit of a stretch, Czeiszperger said. In June, when Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled Safari for Windows at the Worldwide Developers Conference, he claimed Safari loaded pages twice as fast as IE 7, 1.6 times faster than Firefox. "What we've got here is...the fastest browser on Windows," said Jobs at the time.

WPI's measurements backed up Jobs' claim that Safari was 1.6 times faster than Firefox -- its numbers showed it to be 1.7 times faster -- but not the boast about Safari's thumping of IE. There, WPI's ratio for Safari was only 1.4 times faster -- not twice as fast, as Jobs claimed. The ratios for the page loads from the remote servers and the canned editions on the network were identical, said Czeiszperger. "That was a good validation that the live measurements were accurate," he said.

Czeiszperger's load time measurements are available the WPI site.

Safari 3 for Windows is expected to move from beta to final at the end of this week, when Apple releases Safari 3 for Mac OS X as part of the new operating system, dubbed Leopard. Safari 3 can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple site.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?