It certainly does feel like the web browser wars are back on again, or did they ever really stop?
The last few months have seen three major version releases from the three main players in the web browser world – Microsoft, Google and Mozilla.
Microsoft Internet Explorer 9
Microsoft have seriously stepped up in this release producing a noticeably faster and more enjoyable web browser to use.
Some new features include:
- New, simple design giving emphasis to the content you are browsing and not the tools bars within the browser
- Ability to pin a browser tab to your Windows 7 task bar
- Search within the address bar – a feature I love and have long used in Google Chrome
- Download manager – likewise, a fav of mine from FireFox
- A “Your most popular sites tab” smelling a lot like Google Chrome’s “Most visited” tab but a nice way to access your browsing history
- Improved security options to protect you against malicious tracking and ActiveX sites
- Unobtrusive notification bar
The full list and Microsoft’s take on them can be found at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Getting-started-with-Internet-Explorer-9
You can download Internet Explorer 9 from http://www.microsoft.com/ie9.
Google Chrome 10
Google Chrome 10 has quietly released and Google said to start getting used to the quiet releases. In the world of the website Google see’s no point in making major releases, instead seems to prefer to roll out minor but regular improvements.
Looking at Chrome 10 you may not even realize you are running the latest version as very little has changed visually until you open the Chrome 10 options menu.
Options such as “Basics”, “Personal Stuff” and “Under the Hood” are not visible in a web browsing tab just like a standard website page.
This means the keyword powerusers can quickly access their options by quickly opening a new tab (Ctrl-T) then entering “chrome://settings” in their browser address bar.
A focused search box let’s you search for the setting you want to change (such as “proxy”) and you instantly taken to the option – nice!
Some other new features include:
- ability to set a default page zoom factor for those who always want it a little bigger or smaller.
- ability to drag and drop your Chrome app icons on the new tab page.
- sync your data and passwords between different browsers on different computers.
You can download Chrome 10 from: http://www.google.com/chrome
Mozilla FireFox 4
I’ve been eagerly waiting the final release of Mozilla FireFox 4 having once been a huge FireFox fan. Like most I found FireFox started to be slow and hung frequently throughout version 3. Thankfully, it seems, speed was a major factor in FireFox 4.
There are to many features in FireFox 4 to list so you can view all the new improvements here: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/features
The biggie is of course performance and I am very happy to see FireFox 4 is back to the fast, punchy FireFox it used to be.
Some other improvements include:
- “Switch to tab” will check to see if a page is already open as you type the address in the address bar and give you a choice to open a new tab with the site or ‘switch’ to the tab already running the site.
- Recently close tab options to get back to the site you accidentally closed
- Improved UI with tabs to the top, ‘FireFox’ options button and single-click access to bookmarks
You can download FireFox 4 from: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/new.
The Acid3 test
Now for the Acid Test! If you don’t know what the Acid test is then click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid3
The test scores the browser from 0 to 100%. You can run the test in your own browser by visiting http://acid3.acidtests.org.
If you are interested we performed these tests on earlier version of the three major browsers and you can see the results here: http://deconetwork.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/test-your-web-browser/
Internet Explorer 9 scored 95% which is a massive improvement on IE8 that scored only 20%.
Chrome 10 is reporting 100% score for the Acid3 test however my own test shows Chrome 10.0.648.204 scraped in at 83% – very odd, and I’ll need to look into this more.
FireFox 4 scored 97% which is consistent with other reports on the web.