When OSX was first released Apple didn’t have their own browser to bundle with it. The Browser Wars were just forming, leaving just one viable choice- Internet Explorer. That’s right, the dirty secret is out: OSX came bundled with IE. Microsoft’s browser was the default for OSX from 1998 until 2003 when Apple released their own browser Safari. Microsoft ceased development for the OSX version of Internet Explorer in 2005, and removed it from their download offerings altogether a year later.
The rapid rise of the iPod (and later iPhone and iPad) was soon followed by millions of downloads of the device’s companion software iTunes. For good or ill, iTunes and it’s background update software became a way of introducing Apple’s browser to Windows users. Safari was offered by default during updates for iTunes; some users weren’t even aware they were installing the browser. Even with this somewhat disingenuous means of introducing users to the browser, Safari never became a popular browser like Firefox or Chrome with Windows users.
A recent posting from MacRumors now brings the affair full circle, as Apple appears to be in the process of discontinuing Safari for Windows. Safari 6, the latest incarnation of the browser, comes packed with new features that include tight integration with iCloud and iOS devices. This integration with Apple’s entire product line left those few that use Safari on non-OSX PCs in a lurch as they aren’t afforded the same level of access to iCloud.
The actions by Apple leave little doubt as to the fate of Safari for non-OSX users. As mentioned before Apple won’t be offering Safari 6 to any OS but their own, furthermore they pulled the download link for the last version of Safari for Windows, 5.1.7, from their Windows downloads page.
I’ve slowly transitioned from Firefox as my default browser on my iMac to Safari as my iOS device use has increased. The lack of Firefox for iOS and the ability to sync bookmarks and passwords between Safari on my desktop and iOS devices were the first push, and the expanded functionality that Safari 6 and iOS 6 will bring sealed the deal. I’ve found Safari to be an exceptionally fast browser, just as it’s cousin Chrome is (both are built on Webkit foundations), but with some extra features that other browsers lack. While it doesn’t have the same plugin support of Firefox or Chrome, I find that I haven’t needed it; the only plugin I currently run is 1Password (and that’s only to integrate my saved passwords between browsers). While Chrome and Firefox are both fine choices for OSX browsers, I’ve returned to Apple’s answer. Like many things in their ecosystem Safari simply offers the best overall user experience for me.