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Apple's new Safari snubs older Macs, drops Windows version

Only Mountain Lion users get all the features

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Apple has shipped Safari 6 to coincide with the release of Mountain Lion, but to take full advantage of the fruity firm's newest web browser, you'll need to be running its latest OS.

Although Lion users can download Safari 6, not all of the browser's features will work on the older OS, and users of earlier versions of Mac OS X can't get the update at all.

More surprising, Apple's Safari website no longer includes a download link for Windows. Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the change, but it would seem to suggest that Safari for Windows has been scrapped. That's probably for good reason, as its market share has been dismal.

Even though Lion users won't get all of Safari's latest goodness, however, most of the Mountain Lion–only features are conveniences, rather than necessities.

For example, the new multi-touch enabled Tab View feature allows users to pinch to view all of their open tabs and swipe to scroll between them, but it only works on Apple's latest OS.

The Share button, which makes it easy to post URLs via email, Facebook, or Twitter, is another Mountain Lion exclusive.

And then there are iCloud Tabs, which sync a user's most recently viewed pages between Macs and iOS devices. You'll need Mountain Lion for that, but you'll also need iOS 6, which won't ship until this fall.

But Lion users will benefit from the upgrade. For starters, Safari 6 includes a new, multicore-enabled version of Apple's Nitro JavaScript engine, plus improvements in hardware acceleration and CSS rendering, that together should give a noticeable performance boost.

Frequent Googlers will appreciate the new Unified Search Field, which combines the URL and search boxes into one, much like how it is done in Chrome.

Safari 6 also includes support for the Do Not Track privacy standard, which sends a request to websites to not use tracking cookies or similar technology.

Lion users can get the new browser now via Software Update. They can also purchase an upgrade to Mountain Lion, which bundles Safari 6.

Windows users, on the other hand, might start looking around for alternatives. ®

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