Apple's new beta Web browser Safari has gained incontrovertible traction among Mac users worldwide, according to a Macworld online reader poll.

Macworld asked readers: "Have you switched to Safari?". A stunning 66 per cent of 1,262 respondents replied 'Yes'.

Just 2 per cent of voters said they would never use the browser; while a further 17 per cent implied they would use Safari, but "are not yet using OS X 10.2".

A small but significant collection of more cautious voters (15 per cent of those polled) promised to switch to the non-beta Safari 1.0 when it is released.

Voters comments There was a very positive reaction to Apple's browser, which demolishes its competition in speed tests and offers new features the company believes, "reintroduces innovation in the Web browser market".

Voters agree: "Excellent", "Kicks butt", "My browser of choice", "If the beta's this good, I can't wait for the full version," they replied.

"Even for a beta product it's amazing," said one. Many voters said they had switched to Safari as their main browser, with Internet Explorer in reserve for some sites and features.

"It's a dramatic improvement on any other browser I have tried to date," said one.

Among the features driving convinced Safari users back to Internet Explorer were: tabbed windows; auto form; better support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS); better cookie control; the ability to save Web archives; slow Flash; passport management; and, more customization of preferences.

Despite such missing links, voters welcomed Safari's new features: "The way the bookmarks work is great"; "No more irritating pop-ups".

Many readers complained Safari did not support their Internet banking Web sites: "It would be even better if I could only get my Internet banking working". Several readers reported problems here, with Nat West and the Royal Bank of Scotland's Web sites named.

Chimera supported Though many readers made a comparison between Safari and Internet Explorer, few other browsers came in for mention, with one exception: "Chimera is far superior in features and page rendering, waiting an extra half second for it to load is not important," is typical of some voters.

Chimera fans miss that browser's tabbed windows, and its better support for some Web pages, they said.

One Chimera user pointed out: "It's no faster than Chimera for most. The speed of the connection is the critical factor. If the data can't get down your pipe faster than a dial up will allow, the fastest rendering browser in the world will give no advantage over the slowest."

Safari is beta software, and there were reports of instability, though one voter seemed to miss the point of Apple's beta release: "I'm getting sick of upgrading for the sake of it and having to work through ridiculously stupid bugs that should have been sorted before release. If the developers can't get rid of the bugs before release why do we pay for the software in the first place?" It's a free beta program, voter...

Despite its bugs, readers are keen on the bug-reporting feature: "Using the bug reporting tool and discussing the problems we find is the only way we will get the browser we want," one observed.

Anti-Microsoft Despite its beta status, a number of voters added that Safari is already more stable than Internet Explorer. Safari's release also summoned a few moments of the ancient Mac users sport of Microsoft-bashing: "Anything to rid my system of Microsoft," one reader said.

There was visible anti-Microsoft feeling: "Next, Apple should release a word processing application, and there'll no need for Microsoft in my life," said one voter. "Collect your pink slip on the way out, Explorer!" cried another.

Ultimately, Apple is working to create an advanced computing environment capable of attracting new and old users to its products and operating system. The company's strategy is slowly bearing fruit, one voter observed: "The case is stacking up for users to switch to Mac OS X 10.2 with iSync, iCal and now Safari only running on 10.2. It's a similar strategy to iPhoto being an OS X-only app - that alone made me switch."

With so many of Macworld UK online voters already using Safari, and over a million downloads of the application made at last count, "Safari is the future for the Mac browser", most voters agreed.