I have written my fair share of browser reviews — it used to be part of my job when I was an editor for CNET. But, these days, I view a Web browser as just a platform, a way to deliver the Web applications that I build.
This is why I'm not a big fan of Apple's new Safari browser for Windows. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great move for Apple. It will increase the company's mind share in the Windows world beyond just the iPod and iTunes. And it's great that it passes the Acid Test for CSS rendering, something that neither IE7 nor Firefox 2 are able to handle.
But if a Web browser is just a platform, then what really matters to a developer is the stability of that platform. A new browser brings with it new challenges and new incompatibilities, which is the antithesis of a nice, stable platform on which to build applications.
Meanwhile, it's not like IE and Firefox will stand still — they will probably have new releases, either because of previously-planned releases or new features added in direct response to Safari. This means another round of testing and re-verification of code.
Now I know that we're moving to a world where most of what happens on the Web happens on frameworks like Prototype and Google Web Toolkit. In theory, all you have to do as a developer is code to those frameworks and let the framework developers worry about testing and re-verifying on a new browser like Safari for Windows.
But let's be real, the framework developers cannot guarantee that every nook and cranny of their code will work the same on all of these different rendering platforms. You will still have to test and re-verify your own app if you really intend to support Safari for Windows. You can't just leave it up to the framework developers.
I don't want to sound like a Luddite — I do think competition and innovation in the software world is a good thing. It's just such a headache personally to have to deal with yet another platform. I guess I'm getting too old to deal with a new round of the browser wars.