Apple's public beta of Safari 4 looks to be an excellent browser, but there's one aspect of it that may make you think twice about installing it.

As with Safari 3, the software overwrites the previous version of Safari on your Mac. So while you're gaining a speed bump and whizzy features such as Top Sites, Full History Search, Tabs on Top and Cover Flow -- though the jury's still out on whether that's of any use –– you're swapping a stable browser for one that may or may not crash regularly, or refuse to work with certain sites. We've all learned to rely on sites that use quite complex code, such as Gmail or Google Reader -- and we can't access them then we're going to be more than a bit annoyed.

Apple has helpfully provided an uninstaller, but the company should at least offer the option to install the Safari 4 public beta alongside Safari 3 -- so you can play with the former while having the latter to rely on if your banking site starts freaking out at you. For Web designers and developers, it would be great to be able to check sites on both -- though this is a criticism of most browsers' installation processes.

There is a way round this though, you can copy Safari 3 from your Applications folder to another drive before you install Safari 1, and run it from there. Renaming it before installation -- from 'Safari' to 'Safari 3' -- didn't work: the 'Safari 3' application was replaced with Safari 4. If you've already installed Safari 4 -- as I had -- you'll have to uninstall it, move the Safari 3 app, then reinstall it -- putting up with a few reboots in the process and wasting much more time that you'd like for a public beta.

Me, I'm sticking to Firefox.