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Safari 6 arrives for OS X but not Windows

Apple has released Safari 6 (opens in new tab), which boasts a number of new and catch-up features, including a unified address bar, visual tabs, iCloud tabs, sharing and an offline reading list. Apple’s usual aggressive stance regarding upgrade cycles also leaves Mac users running Snow Leopard and earlier systems without Safari 6; additionally, there’s speculation Safari for Windows won’t get further upgrades, given that references to that version of the browser have been largely eradicated from Apple’s website.

Designers and developers we asked for comment seemed untroubled by the possible cancellation of Safari for Windows. “From a testing perspective, Safari on Windows is completely off the radar for us and our clients, unlike its Mac sibling,” said a spokesperson from agency Include. However, no Safari for Windows also impacts on Windows-based web designers, who’ll no longer have Apple’s browser for testing on.

Developer Jamie White told us that as long as WebKit is on Windows, that’s really all that matters. He said that for some things developers will test, Chrome would be sufficient: “For general styles and rendering, Chrome and Safari are close, and so if you’re satisfied with Chrome, it’s safe to assume Safari will be very similar. And JavaScript not relying on bleeding-edge APIs is highly likely to behave identically.” However, White warned that differences creep in during custom styling of UI elements, CSS transitions/transforms, and bleeding-edge JavaScript: “With Audio, Web GL, and other new unstable APIs, you’ll inevitably have to pick which browsers to target. And I would always advocate basing browser targeting on real analytics, once you’ve accumulated enough to make safe assumptions.”

Nine Four founder Nathan Pitman told us any Windows-based developers concerned about Safari 6 not arriving on that platform should follow the same logic savvy devs do for mobile: “How do Windows-based devs test on iOS devices? They buy one. They'll need to apply that same logic now to testing for Safari on OS X – buy a Mac.” director Drew McLellen argued developers should have been doing this all along: “The end of Safari on Windows shouldn't affect Windows-based web designers, because if they're testing sites in Safari on Windows and thinking that's giving them a view on how their sites will work on Safari on a Mac, they're labouring under false illusions. There is no way to test in a browser than to test in that browser natively. If a Windows-based designer wants to see how their work looks on a Mac, they need to look at it on a Mac, and of course, the reverse is true.”

Apple did not return .net’s request for clarification regarding the future of Safari for Windows.

Update: An Apple spokesperson confirmed to Macworld "Safari 6 is available for Mountain Lion and Lion. Safari 5 continues to be available for Windows", which staff writer Lex Friedman said doesn't confirm Safari 6 for Windows will never appear, but that "we don't suggest Ballmer fans hold their breath".

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