No matter how fast a Web browser claims to be, it will only work as well as the Web sites you visit. This is something that Apple Inc. should have taken into consideration when touting its newly released Safari 4 Beta as the fastest browser on the Web.

While the browser has certainly established itself as the standard in the Mac community, it still faces an uphill battle in its attempt to win over PC users.

In the latest release, the feature that everybody is talking about is Safari’s new Top Sites screen, which allows users to look at thumbnail pictures of their most visited sites. The screenshots are regularly updated and any site that features new content will be identified.

Top Sites is certainly the most eye-catching feature of the new browser. The feature is also fully customizable for users who disagree with Apple’s choices.

A similar feature that long-time Apple users will probably appreciate is Cover Flow. In the same way that you would flip through album art in iTunes, this feature gives users an incredibly visual way to look through site history and bookmarks.

The browser’s history section also stores full-page screenshots of every page you visited, including images and text. While I found neither of these features to be truly earth-shattering, it’s the kind of thing that I would like to see other Web browsers put more emphasis on.

But while long-time Apple fans will get a kick out of the new features, I can’t see the additions doing much to convert most Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox users.

The Safari 4 Beta is available for both Mac and Windows users.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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