After 12 betas, 1 release candidate, and more than a year of work Mozilla has officially released Firefox 4, the latest version of its popular open-source browser. In the first 24 hours since it has become available, Firefox 4 has been downloaded over 5 million times, according to Mozilla’s official download stats page. In comparison, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 was downloaded 2.35 million times in its first 24 hours of availability.
Available for download on Windows, Linux, and Mac, The new version of Firefox 4 introduces a much-improved user interface, significant performance enhancements, strong support for the latest Web standards, and noteworthy new features like built-in support for synchronizing bookmarks and other browser data.
The new release arrives at a time when the Web is enjoying an unprecedented level of competition and a rapid pace of evolution, with the release of Internet Explorer 9 last week and with a “new kid on the block” steadily gaining market share, Google’s Chrome.
Firefox 4 has a dramatically redesigned user interface that's quite a departure from the one seen in previous versions, but it also bears a striking resemblance to Google Chrome. The tabs now sit above the address bar which, combined with the lack of a menu bar, maximizes the amount of screen space devoted to actual web content. A Windows Start menu-style Firefox menu contains the most common menu commands with the Bookmarks menu accessible from the Bookmarks toolbar, if you choose to leave it visible. It's possible to restore a more traditional appearance though, with a menu bar and tabs below the address bar.
Tabbed browsing has been given a makeover with an intriguing new feature called Tab Groups. Multiple windows full of tabs can be managed from a single visual overview without cluttering up your desktop and Task Bar with lots of windows. This is useful if you're addicted to tabbed browsing and juggle tabs related to different tasks and projects. Tabs can be dragged and dropped between groups, groups can named or resized so, for example, more important Tab Groups are bigger than less important ones.
Like Chrome, individual tabs can be 'pinned' so that they can't be closed which is useful for web applications, such as Google Docs, that you might always want accessible. If you start typing the address of a web page that's already open in another tab, Firefox offers to take you to that tab without reloading the page.
Being a loyal Firefox user for years, recently I made the switch to Chrome as my default browser. My decision was based solely on speed, the quicker I can open web pages the better. With Firefox’s new speed enhancements redesigned interface, I might just have to switch back.
Mozilla is confident enough about the state of its Firefox 4 Release Candidate (RC) to announce a launch date for the
final version of Firefox 4.The company targets March 22 as the release date at this time, according to a developer post by Mozilla's Damien Sicore.
So far it seems as if the RC is holding its own quite well. I’ve been using it as my default browser since the early beta stages and have found no significant bugs. There has been only one major (Java) bug has been found by some users, which Mozilla did not qualify as a blocking bug. If all goes according to plan, Mozilla will publish Firefox 4 in its final version next week. If Mozilla discovers any additional bugs, there will be a second RC and the final release date will be delayed.
At this time, Mozilla is about five months behind schedule. Before the end of June, Firefox 5 is scheduled to be rolled out. That date has been pushed back indefinitely. Microsoft released IE9 late Monday, which increases the pressure on Mozilla to release its next-generation browser.
Stay tuned, later this week I’ll explain the new features and what you will need to know!
Last night at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, the final version of Windows Internet Explorer 9 was released and is now available for download.
Microsoft opted, this time, not to offer IE9 support for Windows XP. So, the 9th version of the IE9 web browser can only be installed on Windows Vista or Windows 7, a decision that has spurred a lot of critics, as an estimated 60% of the computers in the world are running on the Windows XP operating system.
The new web browser promises a better Internet browsing experience. Given that IE is losing its share to popular browsers like Firefox and Chrome, Microsoft expects to strike back with IE9. Let’s take a look at what’s new in the new Internet Explorer:
The new IE9 interface is surely inspired from the best of Chrome and Firefox. The first big change is in the location of the URL bar which now aligns with the tabs, occupying minimum vertical space on the screen. The toolbar on the top combines most of the settings and other tweaking buttons go provide optimum space for the web pages. The address bar is ‘smart’ in the sense that it gives suggestions from your bookmarks, history and relevance of the query you’re typing in it. The tabs can be separated from window by dragging them out to form a new window – something that you can do also in Chrome and Firefox. The new tab also shows your most visited & bookmarked sites for easy access.
There is a considerable improvement in the software load time. The browser does seem to load faster than any of the IE versions in the past. The most welcome addition is ‘hardware acceleration’ which uses GPU to process graphics heavy web pages thus taking off the load from CPU and improving load times. This is most likely to improve your game demo and video preview experience.
IE9 introduces support to HTML5. It’s definitely not 100% HTML5 as the HTML5 standards are not final yet. We are expecting a lot of improvement in the support with future updates to IE9.
Now you can directly drop the Facebook URL to taskbar of the browser and IE9 will automatically add links to relevant pages of Facebook (Feed, Profile, Inbox etc.). Microsoft has partnered with several popular service providers to enable this feature.
Power users will find this feature very useful. Those obsessed with speed can now follow recommendations from the add-on performance adviser to get the most out of their browser. The performance adviser detects the programs, scripts and apps that slow down your browsing experience and provides a one-stop solution to turn them on or off.
Improved Download Manager:
Learning from Firefox & Chrome, Microsoft has included a nice download manager which is a central place to manage and track all your downloads. There’s nothing new or revolutionary in it, but it’s a feature we all got used to after Firefox introduced it.
The feature that Chrome introduced is now available in IE9. You can easily switch to private browsing mode that lets you browse anonymously without any of the site collecting any information from you.
What’s your take on IE9? Do you think it poses a serious competition to Firefox or Chrome?
If you’re like me, you spend most of your time on the computer using your web browser than just about any other program on your machine. What matters to me are the pictures, words, music and people I connect with and not so much the software I use to get there. Sure my browser of choice is Firefox, but that may soon change.
Last week Microsoft released the beta version of Internet Explorer 9, which promises “a more beautiful web.” It is, without question, the most ambitious browser release Microsoft has ever undertaken, and despite the beta label it is an impressive product. According to Microsoft, IE9 Beta had been downloaded over two million times by the end of the second day. Internet Explorer 8 Beta, which was launched in August of 2008, pales in comparison as it could only garner 1.3 million downloads in the first five days. For years, Internet Explorer has been the top browser as far use, but lately its market share has been steadily sliding as computer users flocked to rivals such as Mozilla's Firefox, Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari. So Microsoft has a lot riding on IE9.
Microsoft has pulled it off, IE9 represents a big step forward. The underpinnings of IE9 are no secret. Microsoft has been talking since last fall about its determined effort to adhere to Web standards and embrace HTML5. It has also detailed its efforts to improve IE9’s performance compared to previous versions. IE9 comes with a streamlined interface, simpler navigation, faster speeds, superior graphics and websites that behave more like apps that are loaded on your PC. Microsoft is teaming with partners to produce sites that take advantage of the graphics chips and other components inside your computer. Among them; Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, eBay, CNN, and USA TODAY.
One drawback to IE9 is the operating systems it will work on, at least in this beta version. If you’re running XP as your OS, you’re kind of…well stuck on IE8. Internet Explorer 9 will only run on Windows7. Even if you have Vista, you won’t be able to use all of IE9’s new features.
For a closer look at IE9 or to download the beta version for yourself, visit Microsoft’s new site www.beatutyoftheweb.com. For an in depth review from Ed Bott at ZDNet visit his Microsoft Report.