Blog Post

Paul Thurrott: Safari is From Apple, Therefore I Hate It

Paul Thurrott has weighed in with his opinion of the new Safari 4 update, and he’s not impressed. While no surprise, it’s the manner in which he blasts the product (and, of course, Apple’s (s aapl) users) that was especially interesting.

I was wondering how Thurrott was going to counter the incredible speed of the browser engine. Apple’s own marketing aside, others have tested it and confirmed it to be the fastest web browser available. I assumed he’d blast the test methodology, or claim that IE 8 would be better (though IE 8 was in the tests), etc. But no, he took a different tack altogether. He simply acknowledged the browser engine is good, and then blasted the UI because he’s apparently a manly man who doesn’t need no steenking graphics.

I Don’t Like Apple’s Products, They Shouldn’t Either

So let’s see what pearls of wisdom we get from Mr. Thurrott:

Of course, Apple being Apple, they are promoting Safari 4 as if it were the second coming. It’s “the world’s fastest, most efficient, and most innovative” browser, according to the humble folks in Cupertino.

Good point. Why can’t Apple’s marketing department just say their stuff sucks and be done with it? One question, though: Why is it when Microsoft lies (the CEO, no less) Thurrott doesn’t care? Odd that he has a lie detector on everyone at Apple, but seems to ignore Microsoft’s (s msft) own CEO.

Tabs on Top, Thinking on Bottom

Apple’s worst decision in this browser is the way it handles tabs… in Safari, tabs are integrated into the title bar area.

Apple claims that moving the tabs to the title bar saves space. But it only saves space because Safari now uses a native-like title bar: In previous versions of the browser, there was no true title bar, so the tab row didn’t really add to the height of the UI.



Apple also claims that the new Tabs on Top reduces clutter, but the truth is, on Vista and 7, it looks horrible and cluttered.

Lots of people have opinions on this, Mac and PC. I see no reason for a window’s title bar to be sacrosanct. In my opinion, using it for tabs means the title bar is, in fact, showing the title of the currently displayed window (tab). I could make a valid case that putting tabs there lets the title bar do what it’s supposed to do.

Top Sites (and Top Shots at Apple’s Users)

Now let’s see what Thurrott has to say about Top Sites:

Apple fanatics–you know, those idiots who would buy anything with an Apple logo on it–will get all giddy and clap like little girls at a Hannah Montana concert when they see Top Sites, the new default Safari 4 home page. But these people are missing the point (what else is new?)

Hmm, that isn’t really about Top Sites at all, is it? Of course, no Thurrott opinion piece is complete without blasting Apple’s user base. Odd that he does so while still claiming that Mac users are the smug ones, isn’t it?

Top Sites’ curved, TV-like display would look wonderful on, well, a TV. But it’s pointlessly visual in a tool that, by nature, is used to find information online.

Fifty bucks to anyone who can honestly decipher that statement. What the heck is “pointlessly visual” supposed to mean? Hey, maybe Thurrott’s whole post is “pointlessly textual!” And what the heck does finding information online have to do with whether it should be visual or not? Geez, most of us don’t use Lynx any more.

It’s unclear why a simple grid of Web site previews wouldn’t be just as useful, and more in keeping with the Web browser aesthetic. Oh, right: Microsoft did it first, in IE 7, over two years ago

No they didn’t, but I don’t expect the Windows SuperSite to know the difference. The IE feature shows a visual grid of the tabs currently running. This is hardly the same as showing a visual grid of the sites you visit most often. But, as long as Thurrott brought it up, why isn’t IE’s feature “pointlessly visual?” Because IE’s grid is not curved? Really? So I guess the problem with Apple’s display is that it just looks too good for simple, hardworking Windows folk.

The nicest thing about Top Sites is that you can turn it off:

No, the nicest thing about Top Sites is that it’s customizable in terms of what, where, and how many items it shows. Unfortunately, it’s just too visual for poor Thurrott! If only Apple had made it uglier.

As for me, my “top sites” have always been in my Bookmarks Bar so I can access them via keyboard, but I’m going to use Top Sites for the visual history search that, as we’ll see presently, Thurrott also doesn’t believe in.

Cover Flow (Or, More Visuals? Ahhhhh!!!)

And speaking of pointless visual effects, allow me to point out the most recent and most egregious use of Apple’s Cover Flow display… it makes absolutely no sense at all in a browser. Naturally, Apple added it to Safari… it’s hard to even know where to start, and of course we’ll have to discuss it over the giddy clapping of those easily-impressed Apple geeks in the corner.

From some of the articles and comments I’ve read elsewhere, Thurrott is not alone in this thinking, but people need to give it a rest. When it comes to Cover Flow, it appears there are only two kinds of people:

  • Those that recognize it can be useful sometimes, and use it for those occasions.
  • Those that have no idea how to grab a handle and drag it to the top.

Well, here’s my view of it, and I better speak up lest Thurrott not hear me over my “giddy clapping” (quick question: is clapping “pointlessly audible?”). Below is what my Safari Collections look like.


As you’ll see, there’s nothing there but the search box (which, being text-based, I’m sure Thurrott approves of). I do this because for my bookmarks I don’t normally need a preview. I generally know them pretty well. And I’d rather have the real estate for dragging bookmarks around or deleting them, which are the primary reasons I visit this page.

On the other hand, when searching through History, I find the page preview tremendously helpful. These are pages I haven’t bookmarked and don’t know as well. To access this I go to the Top Sites page and hit the search box.

As just one example, I wanted to go back to a specific Lynx page I had stumbled across after finding the link above. No way I’d remember the URL, but the page preview made it easy to find the page amongst all those in search for Lynx.


Another example was last night when I had done some comparison shopping for a new digital camera. The pages really add up, and then I wanted to get back to one I’d seen earlier. A visual search made it a snap to find the page I wanted.

So, for me, Cover Flow is less useful for sites I know (bookmarks), but in only 24 hours it has already been extremely valuable for searching history. But, alas, it’s just so…visual. Thurrott’s eyes!

Look, I’m no Luddite. … This stuff is pointless.

The last sentence above negates the first.

In Conclusion (Or, How I Explain That Internet Explorer Is Just Fine)

So, how does Thurrott wrap this all up? Exactly in the manner you’d expect:

I still feel that Internet Explorer (7 or 8) and Firefox 3 are better Windows Web browsers than their WebKit-based competitors, and that has nothing to do with the underlying Web rendering technologies involved and everything to do with functionality. Both browsers are simply better in day to day usage.

Hmm, yes, who wouldn’t prefer this dazzling interface:


to this one:


I suspect most people who excitedly try Safari 4 will very quickly move back to the more comfortable confines of IE or Firefox. I already have.

Amazing. In less than 24 hours Thurrott gleaned that Safari is too visual. He also learned that IE is confining, and that he prefers those confines. Good for him.

67 Responses to “Paul Thurrott: Safari is From Apple, Therefore I Hate It”

  1. Chris,

    “When Vista came out he railed on it as hard or possibly harder than anyone.”


    Did you not read his epic eight-part review of Vista right before it was released? He praised it highly:

    “…it’s a compelling and fascinating product that will delight you over time as you stumble onto new features. It’s this “spontaneous smile” effect that I like so much about Windows Vista, and it stands in sharp contrast to the refined but stark and unfriendly world of Mac OS X and the raw, me-too copying of Linux. Windows Vista is a better operating system than the competition, for reasons that are both technical and practical.”

    Thurrott gave it four stars (out of five). He loved it. It gave him “spontaneous smiles”. I suspect he assumed the rest of the Tech press would play along. Instead, Vista was universally slammed. Thurrott was left holding the bag and very late to the party in finally criticizing it (and even then did so only half-heartedly).

    Notice that even back then Paul thought Mac OS X “unfriendly”. Heh. Thurrott’s been snarky to the Apple community for quite some time, the occasional bread crumbs he tosses Apple notwithstanding. His disdain for Apple’s users — and the press that covers them favorably — has been around for a while.

    And while we’re on the topic of Paul’s bias, here’s a “bad” item about Vista listed in that same review:

    “Bad: Friends don’t let friends use Outlook Express, and despite the new name, Windows Mail is just Outlook Express.”

    Just a few weeks ago Thurrott reviewed Windows Live Essentials and gave every app four stars. That includes Live Mail, which is Outlook Express with a botox injection.

    Look, if you want to defend the man without reading his work, that’s fine. But don’t expect those of us who do to take you seriously.

  2. Congratulations on validating his opinions of Apple fans.

    Thurrot is one of the few unbiased tech journalists out there. If anything he’s harsher on Microsoft than Apple. Probably because he’s often referred to as a Microsoft shill. When Vista came out he railed on it as hard or possibly harder than anyone. With SP1 he believes it’s a better OS.

    The phrase pointlessly visual means that it’s pointless using such a flashy graphic for the feature. It’s overkill. Sure it looks pretty but you can make things look pretty without that sort of effect. I’d like my $50 please.

    The best thing about Safari 4 Beta for me though is that it can’t load it’s own welcome page on either of my computers. It just cranks up to 100% CPU and sits there. Just works does it? Just works the processor.

  3. Michael Sinclair

    You did a great job Tom, well done.

    I have not taken the time to read anything from Paul Throughly Rotten for a very long time. He had proven not to be worthy of reading or even a casual glance years ago.

    Frankly, after 35 years in this industry, I see this man as complete waste of time. Yes, he is a poorly organized paid shill / evangelist working for Micro$oft. I think we all know that by now. Still, something has changed. He now uses an iPhone and carries a Mac laptop. Who’s fooling who here? The man is a traitor in his own self righteous cause. He is obviously very frustrated with Micro$oft and is starting to feel the heat and exhaustion of his own vain efforts to defend them at all costs. His paycheck is obviously getting very hard to swallow!

    Still, beyond the terrible case of Stockholm Syndrome, there is something else – [ after reading some of his trash dribble for the first time in a very long time ] – he has changed. He’s lost it mentally! He now sounds more like a very immature young man who, like so many that have gone before him, has started to see the futility of the whole Micro$oft defense game plan. Its obvious now, even he doesn’t believe in what he’s writing! He’s starting to sound more like a little child in his petty rants and slap backs. He is certainly now very terribly misinformed and no longer any kind of an IT professional, not by any means. Not that he ever really was a professional IT. He was always just pretending from my view!

    Still, even more so, this is not funny nor even a bit amusing anymore. Micro$oft desperately needs a strong dose of integrity and a very serious, [ yesterday is way too late ], brand name repair and recovery. Paul is not helping!

    They need to dump Paul quickly before he gets any worse!

    It’s sad watching this poor shill suffer in his own deep sadness and disbelief in the product(s) he’s paid to evangelize.

    As for the Safari Beta 4 – Impressive! [ I don’t hear any clapping, do you? ]. Makes the whole idea of browser History back tracking really work for you! Very impressive! Very Fast!

  4. Brian Hogg,

    All the screenshots are from the Windows versions of Safari. One way you can tell is the page and gear icons to the right of the Google search box. The Mac version does not have those. In fact, this entire post (screen shots and all) was written on a PC.


    Thanks for the comments. For those thinking it’s no big deal, and who cares, and so what if someone else dislikes it, etc. I couldn’t agree more. This isn’t some kind of grudge match, nor was that the point.

    I simply called Thurrott out for attempting to very quickly (it was only released yesterday!) dismiss Apple’s new browser with a tired and worn-out argument.

    The whole “Safari is too visual” thing is silly, but I know why he did it. It’s classic Apple-bashing to imply toy-like features and functionality in Apple’s products in order to pander to the IT and Enterprise faithful. (No toys for us, we do “serious” work.) Having been in this industry 30+ years I’ve suffered through all those arguments, and have no problem calling them out. That’s what I did here.

  5. I glanced at this idiot (Mr Thurrott’s) website and he says that the content is dictated by the users. maybe if we emailed him en masse and as users dictated that he shut down the site and go jump off the Golden Gate Bridge….

  6. Not for nothing, but Mr. Thurrott is specifically referring to the Windows version of Safari in his review. Certainly his review had a fair bit of snark to it, which is unfortunate, but don’t forget that for all intents and purposes (which seems to be part of his point) this review and his are talking about two separate products.

    As to the title bar, I think that you’ll notice that he was talking Window, and you’re talking OS X. Might make a difference in what the display actually is, and invalidate a bit of your own snark.

    Also, why is everybody acting like his impression is threatening your enjoyment of the product? If you disagree with his review, that’s cool, disagree; you don’t have to stop liking it just because someone else dislikes it, right?

  7. HJ van Rantwijk

    So the man has a different opinion… so what? Who cares anyway. I sure don’t.

    People should decide for them self what they like or dislike, and what they want to use, or not. I mean, what I like and find convenient for my daily Interwubble timex, might be a total off for others.

    Tabs however have had their best days, at least in their current incarnation (I introduced the Mozilla tabs back in 2000) and started to redesign the browser UI from scratch, shamefully trying to forget that I also introduced tabs at the top of the browser window, and that years before Chrome. Time to move on so to speakm and for Apple to sign my check :-)

  8. Side bar: I give my bookmark titles numbers that correspond to the  + # hotkeys in Safari too! (if nobody knows what the hell I’m talking about…look at the picture under “Cover Flow (Or, More Visuals? Ahhhhh!!!)” and you’ll see the bookmarks have numbers before them)

    I didn’t know anyone else did that.

  9. Looks like he has been living in a cave. Someone give him a text based browser.

    “Apple says that the browser’s new JavaScript engine helps Safari 4 load Web pages three times faster than IE 7 or Firefox, but I’ve seen nothing like that in my own usage..”

    So he is saying that all other experts around are fools?

    “This stuff is pointless.”

    Exactly, I would like to say that about his review (or whatever that was).

  10. sparky you are out of touch. First of course it is typical Thurrott. Second, the only reason Thurrott “reviews” Apple anything is because he is a paid Microsoft shill and because he craves page views. Oh he also writes 3rd grade level basic Windows books. Impressive. There is nothing about that that demands respect especially when he is not being obnoxious he is consistently wrong. Way off wrong. Remember the days of Dvorak? Well he is still around and he just bought a MacBook. Mary Jo is still around too so I don’t know WTH your point is.

  11. spark0919

    This isn’t typical Thurrott. While I don’t know the guy a whole lot personally, I actually did e-mail him and praised him for (a year ago) being a somewhat unbiased tech source. He also is considerate and nice and even sent me a return e-mail. Yes, he’s predominantly a Microsoft kind of guy, as he should be: the magazine he writes for is freaking titled Windows IT Pro. But the fact that you see him being open to reviewing OS X tiger and Leopard should demand some respect from him. Most agencies such as CNET just assign people familiar in Apple to do the review but this guy has started from scratch. Read his previous articles on OS X and you’ll see that he respects OS X technologies a lot. In addition, read his Vista articles and you’ll find he’s not that big of a fan at all.

    I myself am not a fan of Safari 4 either. I find the tabs simply disgusting and have already reverted back to Safari 3. Chrome does a better job of doing this and, sadly, Safari 4 Top Sites runs faster on Windows 7 via boot camp than on OS X…huh? I’ll admit that Thurott’s not being as “nice” as usual on his criticism, but we all are critics once in a while no?

    And if you think Thurott is bad…psh. You guys don’t remember the days of Dvorak and Mary Jo Foley. Oh Dvorak…

  12. So Internet Exploder, is the best thing since sliced bread…according to Thurrott. His rantings have no validity to his opinion. He’s just spewing out information, and contradicting himself.

    His notion on tabs, seems to revolve soley around IE, but they didn’t even introduce tabs until…IE7 I think it was, while FF and Safari already had this going for sometime.

    Whatever, I have installed Safari 4 Beta, and I must say I enjoy it. I was a little lost at first with the new tabbing system, but I actually enjoy it now. I like the website zoom feature. It keeps things in tact, I hated how sometimes I had to increase the size of things to better view them, and only the text would grow, this is a great addition.

    I agree with Tom completely with his notions of the cover flow, preview options now available. I love the fact that I can visually look back at what I viewed a week or more back to get that exact page I was looking at.

    All in all, its great. My only reason for not sticking to the one browser, is that fact of web development. Until there is “One Browser to Rule them all”, I have to keep my development ability open enough to ensure everything is good for everyones viewing please.

  13. Hmm, I don’t recall ever clapping when getting an Apple product or some software. I also find it funny how people whine about the tabs being at the top. I find them more useful up there, not to mention it makes sense.

    Paul Fagrott or whatever is a noob.

  14. I think it’s better to flat out ignore this guy. He makes a living from spewing vitriol and preaching the Gospel according to Windows, so how can his opinion be in anyway considered anything but that: an opinion? There is little to know objectivity in his writing of this article. He also makes a hypocritical error in his attempt to slam people who will buy anything Apple just because it’s from Apple; it appears he’s the same way about Windows products. In my experience, hypocrites are better left ignored.

    Granted, the internet is a territory where bloggers can say pretty much whatever they want within reason. But Paul Thurrott certainly exploits that. I just think TheAppleBlog would be better suited to take the higher ground by ignoring him and refraining from slinging the mud back at him through sarcasm.

  15. Michael Sinclair

    Is this man Thurrott suffering from a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome?

    Amazing! I could not get beyond the amazing display of childish jealousy that he is actually displaying.

    Get a life Paul [ My worthless soul is owned by Micro$oft ] Thurrott. Vista failed!

    There There!

  16. Well, consider the source. Thurrott(en) covers the Windows world so, naturally, he has an axe to grind. I haven’t had time to look at the new Safari yet but unless it’s moved the bookmarks to a side bar that can always remain visible as Firefox does, I’ll be sticking with FF.

  17. Jean-Francois

    I don’t qualify myself as an Apple fanatic or an idiot. I use both Windows and OS X (a Dell server, a Dell Inspiron laptop, a mini, an iMac and a MacBook Pro).

    Both OS have their strengths. Although more approchable, OS X is less tweakable unless your FreeBSD fluent. But thank God, it usually just plain works! Windows might more temperamental but the radio or adjustment to fine tune the thing is hidden somewhere.

    Anyways, I profoundly hate being referred to as a hand clapping idiot and lost all respect for Thurrott from an individual and professional perspective. I reserve final judgement until I read his review. But if his lack of refinement and judgement is confirmed, I will politely tell him what I think and ban the shit out of this asshole.

    I am still amazed by the stubborn childishness encontered on the web.


  18. Excellent writeup! Thurott is an idiot, even when it comes to talking about Microsoft stuff. I mean, who calls their site a “supersite”? Yeah, we know the only marketting he hears is from MS.


  19. Paul Thurrott is a tool – he’s up there on the list of “don’t link to his articles” with the likes of Rob Enderle and John Dvorak (whatever happened to Dvorak anyway?). Frankly, anyone who praises garbage like IE 7 deserves to be ignored. With extreme prejudice.

    Microsoft’s crappy software butters Thurrott’s bread. Let that be his problem – not ours.

  20. Thurrott: “It’s unclear why a simple grid of Web site previews wouldn’t be just as useful, and more in keeping with the Web browser aesthetic. Oh, right: Microsoft did it first, in IE 7, over two years ago.”

    Thurrott misses the fact that in IE this grid is for displaying *open* tabs, not to serve as a start page displaying frequently-visited sites. Chrome’s start page is a better comparison (the big difference being you can rearrange Safari’s Top Sites page while Chrome’s is set).