Ars Technica Offers Comprehensive Mac Browser Smackdown

Ars Technica has published a comprehensive Mac browser smackdown, as the site put it. The piece is very solid review and breakdown of the nine browsers available for Mac OS X, including a look at performance, rendering accuracy, and overall user-experience. From the review:

For the first year to year-and-a-half of OS Xis existence, one common complaint was the poor performance of available OS X browsers relative to other platforms. Most complaints were along the lines of poor rendering times and incompatibilities with some web sites, but the overarching theme was that despite having a modern OS for the first time in memory, Mac users were still second-class citizens when it came to surfing the web. There was OmniWeb 4.0 which had a beautiful rendering engine, but was slow, and Internet Explorer 5.1 which was rendered most pages accurately, but was slow. Soon, Mozilla joined the crowd. It was a large application with its own rendering engine, and it was . . . slow. Mac users had several slow web browsers to go with their slow OS.

Times have changed. Two-and-a-half years after the launch of OS X 10.0, Macs still ship with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.2 installed and configured as the default browser. However, Mac users need not suffer with its shortcomings, as there are a plethora of web browsers for the discriminating surfer to choose from. Safari is fast becoming the most popular browser for the Macintosh, and itis overall usage share has nearly doubled since its introduction. According to the Ars Technica site log for June 2003 , Safari users accounted for 7.4% of all visits to compared to 8.7% for all other Mac web browsers. Of course, that other 8.7% could be any of 8 other browsers for OS X.

Thatis right. There are nine browsers to choose from. Which of the teeming multitude is the best? Ars rounded up the contenders, threw a few web pages at them, and took note of the results. In this browser smackdown, we wanted to look at three aspects of the browsing experience: user experience, compatibility, and speed. First, how is the interface? Does it fit well with the OS X GUI? Does it feel like a port? Does it follow common usage conventions (e.g., delete = return to previously viewed page)? Can I manage cookies easily?

Thereis much, much more in the full shootout, including numerical breakdowns on rendering times, compatibility, and other issues. We recommend it as a very interesting read.