In a direct attack on Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Apple used Macworld Expo San Francisco 2003 to unveil its own Web browser. The company claims that Safari is "the fastest and easiest-to-use Web browser ever created for the Mac".

During his keynote speech, Apple CEO Steve Jobs used iBench 4.0 test results to claim that Safari's "highly-tuned" rendering engine loads pages over three times faster than Microsoft's Internet Explorer for the Mac and runs Javascript over twice as fast.

Public beta The Safari public beta is available immediately for free download, requires Mac OS X version 10.2, and is optimized for Mac OS X v10.2.3. It is a 3MB download that occupies only 7.1MB of hard drive space when installed. Apple says that the final version of Safari will be made available later in 2003.

"Safari is the fastest browser on the Mac, and we predict that many will feel it is the best browser ever created," said Jobs. "We are bringing innovation back into this category with the first all new browser created in many years."

Innovative features Google search capabilities are integrated directly into Safari's toolbar for convenient and quick searching using the Web's most popular search engine.

Safari features an innovative new feature called SnapBack, that instantly snaps back up to search results or the top level of any Web site after browsing down one or more levels - as well as boasting automatic 'pop-up' ad blocking.

The Web browser includes a new way to name, organize and present bookmarks that allows the user to quickly rename cumbersome Web site names to shorter, more suitable names. The bookmark library has a single-window interface similar to Apple's iTunes and iPhoto applications that makes organizing and managing bookmarks extremely familiar and convenient, according to the company.

Address Book integration automatically incorporates all Web sites listed in the user's OS X Address Book contact database, such as personal Web sites, into Safari's bookmark library.

Apple claims that Safari includes extensive support of established industry standards to deliver proper rendering of Web pages, such as HTML, XHTML 1.0, DOM, CSS, SSL, JavaScript and Netscape style plug-ins such as QuickTime with MPEG-4, Flash, Shockwave and Real.

It includes a simplified download process with automatic handling of disk images, file decompression, MacBinary and BinHex conversion for download and installation of files and applications without extra files remaining on the desktop; and what Apple claims is the industry's best rendering engine based on KHTML, from KDE's Konqueror open-source project, to which Apple has made 'significant enhancements' that will be contributed back to the open source community.

For all the news and pictures from Macworld Expo San Francisco 2003, click here.