Vista is buggy. That much is obvious to anyone who runs it but it has been improving in stability as the patches are rolled out. However it runs extremely slowly too and this became startlingly obvious to me in the last few weeks as I have been testing browsers on different platforms.
It turns out I can run Internet Explorer 8 faster on my older Mac than I can on my newer Vista machine (both 2ghz Intel core duo with 2gb ram)!
However, when I installed Internet Explorer 8 on my Vista laptop, IE8 completed the test in 19,906.4ms.
Vista is more than twice as slow as XP running in Parallels on my Mac.
Vista is a huge embarrassment for Microsoft. They spent a fortune developing it and you speak to any Microsoft employee now and if the topic turns to Vista they get visibly uncomfortable. To the extent that Microsoft are now starting to talk up Windows 7 with Bill Gates calling it a big step forward. It needs to be.
Firefox 3.0b4 was released overnight and it is a significant improvement over the already superb 3.0b3!
The browser space is really improving of late, what with the release of the surprisingly good Internet Explorer 8 beta, the nightly Webkit releases, and now Firefox 3.0b4.
I ran Firefox 3.0b4 through the Sunspider browser speed test and it completed the test in an amazing 4,683.6ms on my OS X MacBook Pro! That is spectacular performance compared to the already extremely zippy Webkit which comes in at 5,744.8ms and Firefox 3.0b3 which comes in at 9,822.4ms. Flock 1.09 lags waaaaaay behind at a laggardly 16,945.0ms
On trying the Acid3 test (Firefox 3.x passes Acid2) it scores a creditable 65/100, up from 61/100 for b3 but still seriously lagging behind Webkit’s 87/100.
The full release notes comprehensively detail the many updates in this beta version of Firefox and are well worth a scan. Noteworthy improvements include:
- 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 😉
I wrote a post a few weeks back comparing the speeds of various browsers and Microsoft’s current browser, Internet Explorer 7, was the slowest browser by a long margin.
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.
Microsoft announced yesterday on the Internet Explorer blog that the next version of Internet Explorer (IE8) will correctly render the Acid2 test page. See the excellent Channel 9 video for more.
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.
Apple’s Safari passed the Acid2 test in October 2005!
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!
Ironically the official Acid2 web page is broken today (!) but it is mirrored on one of the developers sites so you can test your current browser there.