It was released just days after Beta 9 and I’m not sure what all the differences are between Beta 9 and Beta 10 are but I had been using Firefox 4 Beta 9 since it was released and I really liked it, so I downloaded Beta 10 to stay up-to-date.
Firefox 4 Beta 9 was the first version of Firefox 4 I tried out. Previous to that I had been running on 3.6.13 and I found it quite buggy. It would quite often freeze up completely, requiring me to force-quit it and it is not like I have a huge number of Add-ons installed.
Anyway, Firefox four is a huge improvement. It runs extremely quickly, is very stable and from an aesthetic point of view it is a really gorgeous browser (not often you hear me say that!).
Even things as mundane as adding a link in WordPress look fabulous compared to the same dialog in Safari (v 5.0.3).
There are other cool features associated with Firefox 4 as well (like the ability to sync tabs etc. across machines, new Add-on management, tab organisation – I really needed this one! and more) and they are all outlined on the Firefox 4 Beta 10 features page.
Many of them you’ll probably never use but for me, the beauty of this browser and its stability are enough for me – I’m not going back to Firefox 3 again.
There was a big bruhaha on the intertubes over the weekend when Apple ran its software update on Windows and offered the Safari 3.1 browser download as the default selected option.
Now I am not for a second condoning this kind of behaviour. I believe opt-in is the only way to do optional updates, especially when you are adding applications to a users machine.
However, I had to laugh when I saw Ed Bott get all up on his high horse about this. Ed is a Microsoft guy so it was all the more hilarious that he try to grab the moral highground here. In his post he said:
I think Apple is dead wrong in the way itâ€™s gone about using its iPod monopoly to expand its share in another market. Ironically, an excellent model for how this update program should work already exists. Itâ€™s called Windows Update, and it embodies all the principles that Apple should follow… The right way to do it involves these four principles
* Opt-in is the only way. The update process should be completely opt-in. The option to deliver software should never be preselected for the user.
* Offer full disclosure. The software company has a responsibility to fully disclose what its software does, and the customer should make the opt-in decision only after being given complete details about how the update process works.
* Offer updates only. Updates should be just that. They should apply only to software that the customer has already chosen to install.
* Donâ€™t mix updates. Updates that are not critical should be delivered through a separate mechanism.
They are good principles, I have no argument with them however Ed offers these principles up as if Microsoft lived by them! Ed, you are dreaming. Microsoft are just as guilty of breaching these principles as Apple. I don’t use Microsoft software much but the last time I tried to update Windows Live Writer my default search engine was changed to Live Search, and I had to opt out or I would have had Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live OneCare installed on my laptop.
Improvements to the user interface: better search support in the Download Manager, ability to zoom entire page or just the text, continuing look and feel improvements on Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X and Linux.
Richer personalization through: location bar that uses an algorithm based on site visit recency and frequency (called â€œfrecencyâ€) to provide better matches against your history and bookmarks for URLs and page titles, as well as an adaptive learning algorithm which tunes itself to your browsing habits.
I have been using Firefox 3.0 as one of my main browsers (along with Webkit) since 3.0b1 and despite the warnings
Firefox 3 Beta 4 is a developer preview release of Mozilla’s next generation Firefox browser and is being made available for testing purposes only
I have found it to be rock solid and a much better browsing experience than Firefox 2.x
The only downside to Firefox 3.0bx is the lack of working plugins but once you try it for a couple of days, you will find it difficult to go back to Firefox 2.x – even with all your plugins!
Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8 Beta yesterday and, surprisingly, it seems to be quite a good browser! I say surprisingly because Microsoft don’t have a track record in the good browser market 😉
Opera’s CTO HÃ¥kon Wium Lie was quoted recently making some very valid criticisms of Internet Explorer 7.
However, Microsoft seem to have addressed many of those issues in Internet Explorer 8.
I downloaded and installed it on my Mac last night (in the Parallels partition with XP as the OS).
It seemed to work well enough so I loaded up the Acid2 test and was surprised to find that it rendered correctly! This was a good sign!
There is still a lot of work to be done on IE8. It crashed several times on me when I was using it and it fails the Acid3 test miserably (17/100 compared to Firefox 3.0b3’s 61/100 and Webkit’s thoroughly respectable 87/100!).
Still, this looks like Microsoft are finally taking a step in the right direction with IE8. I am looking forward to seeing the final release.
UPDATE – I installed Internet Explorer 8 on my Vista laptop this evening (the same one where Webkit runs the test in 9,094.2ms) and IE8 completed the test in 19,906.4ms. This is roughly the same as Firefox 3.0b3 and is a vast improvement on the 66,870.6ms which IE7 took.
So while the Opera 9.5b browser is the second fastest browser tested and is showing very respectable times, it is still taking nearlt twice as long as the Safari Webkit browser to render pages.
Note, I re-tested the WebKit so that the results of these browsers would be directly comparable. It is also worth noting that Firefox 3.0b3 is significantly faster on Vista than was Firefox 3.0b2 while on OS X Firefox 3.0b3 is only marginally faster than Firefox 3.0b2.
The Acid2 test is a test of a browser’s ability to properly render CSS and HTML. From the Acid2 Wikipedia page:
The Acid2 test should render correctly on any browser that follows the W3C HTML and CSS 2.0 specifications. Any browser which does not correctly and completely support all of the features which Acid2 uses will not render the page correctly.
Firefox 3 is expected to pass the Acid2 test as well when it is released (beta 2 already does). Internet Explorer 8 is due to ship in the first half of 2008, as is Firefox 3 so it looks as if 2008 will be the year of the standards compliant browser!
I started using Firefox 3.0b1 a few weeks back as my primary browser (in general it is not advisable to use beta software on a production machine). In that time it has been incredibly stable and not at all resource hungry.
This morning I noticed that Firefox 3.0b2 was released yesterday. I took a quick look over the release notes, then I went to the download page, grabbed a copy and installed it.
It is running really smoothly and apart from the lack of add-ons, I’m loving it. The Proto Theme does work and makes Firefox 3 look even better.
I downloaded and installed the beta version of Firefox 3.0 a few days ago and have been using it since on my OS X Leopard laptop.
I also installed the Proto theme for Mac Firefox which significantly enhances the look of Firefox 3 on the Mac.
My initial impressions of Firefox 3.0b1 are very positive. It is fast, stable, looks really sweet and many of the memory issues which have dogged Firefox appear to have been fixed.
To expand on the memory comment, in Firefox the memory used to leak so the longer it remained open, the more memory it consumed. I have had Firefox running on this Mac now for several days with up to six windows open some of which have up to twenty five tabs running. Currently this is using 1.38gb of virtual memory. At the same time, Safari which has one window open with two tabs running is consuming 1.41gb of virtual memory!
Another change is the ability to Star and Tag bookmarks. Personally I prefer the way Flock allows you to bookmark directly into Del.icio.us.
One disadvantage of running the Firefox beta is that none of my favourite plugins now work but at least Del.icio.us have a bookmarklet which runs well out of the bookmarks toolbar so I can still bookmark there from Firefox.
The release notes list a raft of improvements under the headings:
Easier to Use
Improved Platform for Developers and
Overall, I like it. It seems much improved, more responsive and less of a memory hog. Shades of good things to come!