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Microsoft Web sites and Adobe's Flash sending Safari off course?

Scattered reports of trouble and a few big misses

By Eric Lai
March 26, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - With Apple Inc. aggressively foisting Safari 3.1 on Windows users, millions are likely trying out the Web browser for the first time.

Though many are finding the free browser touted by Apple to be both faster and more accurate at displaying Web pages, not everyone is happy.

According to online complaints, a number of Web sites run by Microsoft Corp. don't load at all under Safari. Such Microsoft sites that have been confirmed by Computerworld include Windows Live Hotmail, Office Live Workspace and Office Live Small Business.

Windows Live Mail is the second most popular U.S. e-mail service, behind Yahoo Mail, according to HitWise.

Office Live Workspace is Microsoft's answer, sort of, to Google Docs, while Office Live Small Business is a Web-hosting-and-more package aimed at small and medium-size businesses.

Other users claim Safari itself isn't working properly on Windows. Some say Safari has a memory-leak problem, while others say Safari does not render Web pages as well as claimed.

Flash unplugged?

One of the most common complaints is that Adobe Systems Inc.'s Flash plug-in is malfunctioning under Safari.

"Flash works fine in FireFox. Will not work in Safari," wrote one user, 'wriba,' on Apple's own Safari discussion forum. Flash "does not/will not show up as an installed plugin in Safari. My OS is Vista. Without this plugin, Safari (while I like it) is relatively worthless."

Other users, including 'cypherpunk,' 'SuperSizeit' and 'Desert Warrior,' echoed the complaints

"Apple, are you monitoring this thread? Any help???" wrote 'sbw102' on Apple's forum.

This reporter encountered one Web site that did not recognize the Flash plug-in in Safari but was not able to replicate most of the problems mentioned by users.

According to an Adobe spokesman, Flash has already been tested by Adobe and should work fine on Safari on Windows. A Web page on Adobe's site that indicates otherwise is out of date, he said.

"The issues with content not working for certain people on certain sites can be any number of small issues such as how a user has their plug-in configured or how the content publishers have created the SWF (Shockwave Flash) content," he wrote in an e-mail. "Additionally, it's possible that a JavaScript detection script may not yet properly test for Safari on Windows, as it's so new, and incorrectly decided that the browser did not have Flash Player."

He continued: "We would expect these issues to decrease over time as Safari is out in the market longer and its usage grows."

Siteseeing and Silverlight

Microsoft, for its part, acknowledged that it hadn't coded its Web sites to support Safari yet.

"We are initially supporting browsers with the widest usage and are evaluating Safari support for the future," a spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail. Safari held 5.7% of the browser market in February, according to Net Applications. IE had about 75%, while Firefox had 17%. All of the sites mentioned above work with IE and Firefox.

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