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.

Huh?

safari3titlebar

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.

coverflow-closed

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.

cf-history

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:

ie-menu-21

to this one:

safari-menu

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. AppleGuy

    First and foremost this review was a “preview” of Apple’s Safari while it was still in Beta. And guess what? Back then it had the tabs on the top, oh, wait, you even posted a picture of it when you so painfully compared IE7 to Safari. On another thought, instead of showing a picture of IE7 or IE8 from Windows XP–an OS that I would consider to be almost outdated–let’s instead show it on Vista where it looks MUCH better. If you’re going to do that with Internet Explorer then let’s see what Safari 4 looks like on an outdated Mac OS, oh, wait you can’t.

    Sorry, but this whole article takes cheap shots at someone who made a decent review of a beta (keyword, beta) product. I have also tried Safari 3 and 4 on my computers and it is NO way faster or slower than Firefox or IE8. If you actually waited until he did a review of the final product you would realize he was much more on Apple’s side–I’ll admit the beta was pathetic while the final product was somewhat usable. But why the heck would you do that? Instead let’s just lambast someone for doing a decent review.

    Let’s be realistic though for a moment–we can be realistic at the Apple Blog, right?–Safari is designed for the Mac OS, it is “re-designed” for the Windows OS, and guess what, Apple, for one of many reasons, doesn’t make as great of software for the Windows OS as they do for their own OS, go figure. When I use a Windows program I don’t want it to look like a Mac OS X program, it may look great on the Mac, but guess what? It doesn’t on Windows. Of course, there are plenty of realistic reasons for this, they don’t know the Windows code as well as their own or perhaps they just don’t want to put as much time and effort for a non-Apple platform based web-browser, completely acceptable. Never-the-less we must realize that Apple products for Windows are nothing special. If anything I would prefer Google Chrome’s look and feel to Safari 4’s, and that’s saying something.

    I realize that this is an Apple Blog and most people here drink the special Kool-Aid that Steve Jobs and his fine people at Apple mix up, but at least keep an open-mind out, there are people that don’t think Safari is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to technology. If they write a review that accurately takes the negative points of Safari and talk about them–while at the same time looking at the positive takes–then let them be.

    Oh, and yes, the whole TV and PC monitor thing, there is a difference. Software should be specifically designed for PC’s or TV’s. Not sure about you guys, but I use my TV from a distance, typically with a remote. I use my computer with a mouse and keyboard. Certain interfaces work better with one or the other and, well, so it seems Safari 4’s navigation for favorites and history would work much better in a TV-type setting. So when Paul Thurrott states that it looks better on a TV he is simply saying it would be easier to navigate on a TV.

    There I’ve said my share. Hopefully we can all have a more open-mind towards both Apple and Microsoft products.

  2. Tabs are more useful at the top then below the address bar to me; that’s why since Sept.’08 I’ve used Chrome exclusively. I’m interested in seeing Safari 4 and Chrome 2; those top 2 browsers are far superior to FF3 and IE8. There’s a reason IE8 has under 2% of the market.

    Daniel

  3. Here’s what I don’t understand. Thurrott claims the curved display looks better on a TV than on a PC monitor. WTF? Why? They’re basically the same thing, except a TV is generally larger.

    What’s his logic here? Am I missing something?

  4. Leon Aves

    My favourite comment from Thurrot, though not in this article:

    “the Dock is a usability nightmare, with overlapping functionality (it contains shortcuts for both running and certain non-running applications”

    Is that not exactly what Windows 7 does? Oh wait, I’m sorry, in Windows 7, it “minimizes the number of UI locations you need to visit to get work done.”

    Shut up.

  5. I think your assessment of Mr. Thurrott’s opinion is right on target. Sounds like he hates Apple more than I hate Microsoft. I’m a fairly proficient Windows end-user because I’m forced to use a PC and Windows XP at work along with Office 2007 and IE7. I’m using Safari 4 on my old PowerBook right now and I love it. In fact, I like it better than Firefox, and way better than IE7 on Windows. I think our friend Paul, just needs to move out of the fast lane and let us pull ahead of him.

  6. The thing that bugs me about Thurott is why can’t he just make a comment about Apple products without the insults Aimed at Apple customers. Paul does write some good articles but he just shoots himself in the foot with this kinda “locker room” attitude. There are many Computer users out there that actually use multi platforms to develop their work. In this day and age I don’t see why Paul must bring the hate. My advice to Paul would be to keep strictly to the facts. Sure he doesn’t have to like Apple products or Apple customers but he should steer clear of the blatant Bias and Slurs.

  7. @ Chris,

    Read these passages again:

    “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?)…”

    “…and of course we’ll have to discuss it over the giddy clapping of those easily-impressed Apple geeks in the corner.”

    And you still call him unbiased? Paul flat out *insults* *everybody* who likes Apple’s products.

    Oh, and did anybody catch this?

    “My favorite part about Safari’s Cover Flow is that it’s hard to find. You have to click the “Show All Bookmarks” button in the Bookmarks toolbar to access the new Bookmarks library, which also includes History and other browser-related lists. Because I turn off the Bookmarks toolbar right-off, I’m less likely to run into this horrible UI.”

    Paul complains that he can’t find the Bookmarks button, then admits that he had turned off the toolbar that holds the Bookmarks button! Think he’ll ever make the connection before Safari 5 comes out?

  8. @robertsoakes: Let’s not sensationalize. Tom has hardly written “3 or 4” articles in the past 3 or 4 weeks about Thurrott. I just looked and this is the SECOND in almost 6 MONTHS. So if you’re gonna say something is unhealthy…it’s probably your memory. :)

  9. A browser should be transparent. IE is not. You are given message after message in IE. IE by default pops up a box if some javascript is not rendering correctly (saying there are errors on the page, etc). Don’t tell me that it is running securely. Just be secure. I don’t care about what the browser says that it does. Just do it.

    What Apple has done with Safari is try to make it as transparent as possible. The pages load quickly, and websites look the way that they are supposed to.

    If IE can get these two things down, then they will be in the running.

  10. robertsoakes

    Methinks that you’re taking an unhealthy interest in Paul Thurrott. This is the third or fourth article I’ve seen on The Apple Blog in as many weeks that either refutes/insults him. That seems to speak of a persecution mindset rather than a desire to “set the record straight.” Clocking in at 1300 words, your message might be better summarized as, “He’s picking on us! Make him stop!”

    After reading your article, his original piece, and re-reading your commentary; I actually think he raises some valuable points. Let’s consider this gem:

    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.

    Your response:

    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.

    Where to start? First, the original message “deciphered.” Thurrott is saying that the top sites screen is too frilly. By attempting to look cool, it actually distracts from its purpose (which has been a huge no-no in the past for users of Mac OS X). He actually has a very good point. What if the screen were simply presented on a grid with all of the same information and features? Same idea, just a better execution without the frilly excess. It gets the job done without being distracting.

    This same criticism is leveled against Windows Vista by we of the Mac Faithful all too often. Eye candy and glamour are wonderful, but they should serve some kind of purpose. It’s the Expose versus Flip 3D debate all over, except in reverse. We’ve been there and done that.

    A solid rocket in the Mac OS arsenal is that Apple carefully ponders each new feature in its products, how many times I have heard the story of Steve Job’s obsession that the circuit board be beautiful.

    Safari 4 has some extremely compelling features (I particularly like the CoverFlow in bookmarks/history), but I’m not necessarily thrilled about their implementation. In fact, it’s possible that the new CoverFlow might be a huge privacy violation waiting to happen. Did you know that Safari 4 stores a high resolution snapshot of every webpage that you visit? Iit really freaked me out when I saw a highly readable snapshot of my bank accounts, which will be stored in a cache that the browser can access on my hard drive. That’s one hell of a rough edge!

    Windows users like to portray us as sheep and victims of our own tunnel vision. I see both at work in this article and many of the subsequent comments. This blog is much more entertaining when it strives to return my “child like sense of wonder.” Please go forth and do so.

    PS, I don’t suppose that I can actually claim that $50?

  11. I love – *LOVE* – listening to the Paul Thurrot show with Leo Laporte. It’s sound like Paul is trying to convince HIMSELF more than anyone about the merits of MS and Windows. And Leo keeps changing the topic to Apple and the iPhone, because he’s far more interested in everything Apple.

    Paul sounds SO frustrated in almost every episode. It’s really entertaining.

  12. Without his Microsoft advertising on his glorious Windows Supersite, Paul would have to find real work.

    Don’t get upset with him for trashing Apple products. The man is paying the bills, just like the rest of us.

    So he’s selling his soul to the devil. That’s his problem.

  13. As usual, Tom cuts Thurrot down to size! At the rate he’s going we’re all going to be careful we don’t accidentally step on Paul! His opinions are so anti-Apple and anti-logical it amazes me that anyone would read his dribble other than for maybe a laugh!

  14. Copernicus

    You know it’s gonna be a hit when Thurrott hates it. He’s like the retarded canary in the coal mine.

    Besides, he’s all pouty these days cause Mary Jo Foley is the “insider” mouthpiece for Microsoft news. Now he can only give half wit opinions the day after news she scoops. Meanwhile, he continues his retarded obsession with explaining how everything that happens or is reported HE said first. It’s like special olympics over there on his “blog”. Just another Microsoft pimple…

  15. I have followed and respected Thurrott in the past but I have to agree with Tom about this article. Thurrott has no business trashing people of any ilk in his work. That’s just very bad form and I lost a lot of respect for him for doing so. It made me stop focussing on what he was trying to say which I’m pretty sure was not his intent.

    I also found it totally ironic that when I went to check out his article I was confronted with a video ad for Microsoft embedded in the article itself. Very biased in appearance.

  16. @Tom Reestman

    I’m willing to accept I could be wrong there. I’m not going to go read that article again. However I insist that he has been quite harsh on Vista in the past and in general about Microsoft. He could’ve been talking about specific issues because I am aware that he’s also called a lot of Vista’s problems as “perceived”.
    I always laugh though as people like Gruber seem to have carte blanche to slag off Microsoft in a very acerbic fashion at every turn with nary a comeback from anyone. All the while doing about turns of opinion to justify an Apple action. Although lately I have noticed he’s been critical of them in a couple of posts. So maybe he’s changing too.
    I still say Thurrot is one of the least biased tech journalists though. Yes he’s primarily Microsoft centered but he still covers Apple heavily and is very often spot on with his observations.
    I understand his disdain for Apple users. When you’ve had as much abuse from a certain demographic as much as he has you’re going to be just as snarky back. I know I am when I’ve had similar experiences.

    The oldest WinInfo I’ve got is “WinInfo Daily UPDATE–Longhorn Graphics Requirements–May 6, 2004” so I think it’s fair to say I do read what he writes. Enough to be taken seriously? I believe so. I also read his blog.

    From the WinInfo update from 26/09/2005
    Allchin on Vista: “It’s Not Going to Work”
    Echoing my earlier comments about Windows Vista being a train wreck, Microsoft Group Vice President Jim Allchin walked into Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates’s office in July 2004 and told him that the software project was horribly behind schedule and would never get caught up. “It’s not going to work,” he said, according to a report in “The Wall Street Journal.” The problem was that Vista was too complicated, and Microsoft’s age-old methods for developing software weren’t going to be good enough.

    Maybe I’m remember him slagging Vista off before release?

    @Michael Bing

    Congratulations on that carefully written comment. I love how you’ve used a form of English alien to me.

  17. Thank You Thank You Thank You!!

    Reading this was such a pleasure and really made me laugh! Absolutely fantastic come back from Tom Reestman – nice one!

    I think it’s clear there’s little to worry about from people like Thurrott as, while he’s perfectly entitled to have an opinion on Apple products, he clearly cannot argue a point and provide evidence to support his claims on even the most basic level. In fact, most of his comments remind me of an old man sat at his typewriter in the 1900’s complaining that the townswomen were showing too much ankle – disgraceful! lol

    All that aside, I think everyone here reading this is perfectly intelligent enough to make their own decisions about what browsers and technology they use. I am a massive apple fan and have consistently been let down by windows in my line of work but I don’t feel the need to go round bashing Microsoft. In fact, Apple & Microsoft need one another as each ones strives to outdo the other and as a result we get new and creative technologies and gadgets being produced all the time.

  18. I’m inclined to agree with Alex, Martin, and a few others: this article and responses are no better than the behavior and irrationality exhibited by Thurrott. You’re kidding yourselves if you don’t think Apple users get tunnel vision or use selective arguments, too. Thurrott in his perpetual Vista-Love-Fest isn’t the only one.

    Before you prove my point by having to ask: I have a monster XP machine and am typing on my beloved MBP, both of which sit on the same desk, and I not only curse but use both every day – just at different times.

    The only Absolute Good is coffee.

  19. I agree with Martin. I’m a Mac user and consider myself a fan of Apple’s products–but this article combined with the comments people have left are completely hotheaded and irrational.

    I read TAB because it informs me of the new, hot Mac products and gives me some great tips. If Tom Reestman wants to write an article that’s loaded with more emotion than reason he should be doing this on his own blog. I realize TAB is a blog but there should be some sort of journalistic standard (after all, TAB is a business that reports).

    Also, there are hardly any valid arguments–just a repetition of the same basic point: Thurrott is biased and made some illogical and unprofessional statements. So what? What happened to taking the high road and just quoting those paragraphs and letting the users decide for themselves?

    Rather, in this article Tom Reestman decides to stir the pot with his emotional response. This article along with the reader comments are the ammunition for the paragraph that starts with “Apple fanatics…”

  20. Thurrott comes across as an ass, but you come across as an almost bigger ass with this article.

    Yes, Safari is an innovator in the web browser market and as a Windows user it’s actually my default browser, but when give this tosser the publicity he probably desperately craves while sat in his bedroom?

  21. Chris,
    I have been “following” Paul since about 2002 when I first jumped on to the Mac platform. In the beginning, his articles were considerably more balanced and objective. However, as Apple has improved its products year on year, successfully transitioned from OS9 to OS10, and from PowerPC to Intel; Paul’s objectivity has changed for the worse as well. His view of the iPhone, for example is positive for the most part but he still has the most dogmatic view in the industry – with his view on the iPhone coming across as deeply flawed when he first reviewed it; steadily re-writing history as Apple updated the OS to match the reality. In the last 12 to 18 months his Apple coverage has dropped off considerably as well as Microsoft activity post Vista increased.
    The flashy-visuals you refer to are designed for the majority not the fickle minority. They don’t always get it right first time or even second time but Apple do have a history of refining their applications over time, so I imagine as Safari is only BETA, they may yet be gauging the public response to it and may make changes.
    Whilst the issues on the windows versions appear to be more substantial than on the Mac version, again it is a BETA so I hope those bugs and processor-hogging processes are sorted out.

    Tom,
    I have read that the latest beta versions of Chrome (2.0) and Firebox (v3.1b) are faster than the beta version of Safari : http://www.ginside.com/2009/2979/google-chrome-apple-safari-beta4/

    Regards
    Andrew