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Firefox, Chrome & Opera Push Out Major New Betas

Gordon Kelly


Firefox, Chrome & Opera Push Out Major New Betas

The browser wars may still excite the techie more than the average web user (everything excites a techie more than the average web user *cough*), but within a few years they'll be just as intriguing as the latest specs on new smartphones. So listen up...

Three major new browser betas have hit the world today and they provide significant insight into how the masses will be surfing in the next few months: Firefox 3.6, Chrome 4.0 and Opera Mini 10.

Firefox first and it brings the new Gecko engine (v1.9.2) into the mix for CSS, DOM and HTML5 technologies and much improved JavaScript, start-up and rendering performance (something it definitely needs). On top of this you'll find handy alerts about out of date plugins to reduce security risks, single click skin changes (including compatibility with Personas) and better web font support. As always, best check your favourite add-ons are compatible before you upgrade.

Next Chrome and version (Google has never been a fan of upfront, or even user friendly, code numbers) brings yet more speed (something it probably doesn't need) and, most interestingly, Cloud-based bookmark syncing.

The video above does a pretty good job of explaining how this works, but essentially users will be able to synchronise their bookmarks between multiple computers in real time. This is an increasingly vital ability as we work on and own many different computers and should greatly help with organisation. Yes other browsers can do this too, but it is handy to have the industry's fastest browser add features not just raw speed for once.

Lastly Opera has also released the first beta of its Mobile 10 browser for Nokia and Symbian/S60 handsets. Key most are a new look, integration of Opera's famed 'Speed Dial', tabbed browsing and a password manager. It will also play nicely with both touchscreen and non-touchscreen phones.

Surf's up! (I can't believe I just wrote that - still... 'excitement*)


Firefox 3.6 Beta 1 Blog Post

Google Chrome Beta Blog Post

Opera Mobile 10 Beta


November 3, 2009, 6:56 pm

"Next Chrome and version (Google has never been a fan of upfront, or even user friendly, code numbers) brings yet more speed (something it probably doesn't need)..."

Don't talk crazy, of course it needs it! More speed is always welcome, before Chrome showed up it wasn't like speed was the big issue with browsers that it is now.


November 3, 2009, 7:02 pm

@Ohmz - it's a relative issue. I'd rather Chrome development focused on a core feature set, most notably those promised extensions (http://www.trustedreviews.c... right now.

Personally I find, while Chrome is undeniably faster, I cannot be nearly as productive on it as I can be with Firefox thanks to some incredibly useful add-ons and those invaluable smart keywords: http://support.mozilla.com/...


November 3, 2009, 7:08 pm

Since Firefox v2.0, Mozilla seems to have made extraordinarily slow progress. Chrome is clearly visible in the wing mirrors of Team Mozilla and it won't be too long until Chrome screams past.

All Chrome needs is add-ons, some tweaking of the UI and a decent Bookmark manager and there will be little to touch it. It's amazing the progress Google have made with Chrome in such a short space of time. I'd imagine the bods at Mozilla are worried! 3.6 & 3.7 do not appear to offer end users much more than 3.5 already does.

As for Opera, well who cares?


November 3, 2009, 7:54 pm

@Steve "All Chrome needs is add-ons"

Let's not underestimate the task here... Firefox's massive add-on catalogue has been built by open source developers over a number of years. There's an add-on for almost anything anyone could think of. That's a lot of ground to make up and will the developers be so willing to move away from Firefox?

As a web designer I have used the "big 5" browsers quite extensively and after Firefox my next choice is Opera. However my trust in Opera was thrown when I installed 10 and all the cookies, passwords, bookmarks etc. that I was using with 9 just disappeared! I have been using Firefox since version 0.7 and have had all my add-ons and settings carried over without any problems bar the odd un-compatible, outdated add-on.


November 3, 2009, 7:57 pm

Doesn't Google Chrome already have something rather similar to FireFox's Smart Keywords? Once you have been to a site with a search box it will remember that. The next time you need to search that specific site you just enter the first few letters of the URL, hit 'tab' and enter your search query. Chrome's implementation is not perfect though, I've discovered a couple of site where it does not work (mainly if the searchbox is not on the site's main page), but when it works it's even better than Firefox's implementation.

I agree that Chrome does need extensions, but they are still working on those. You can check the progress they are making on this front on their Google Chrome Release blog over here: http://googlechromereleases...

As you can see, pretty much every single Dev Channel update in the last 6+ months has had some changes, fixes and additions to Google Chrome's extension system. There has already been an Extension menu option in the 'Wrench Menu' for some time now in the Dev Channel, but it's not yet nearly as refined and easy to find extensions as it is on FireFox. It's not even close would actually be more accurate. It's progressing pretty fast though.

P.S. Am I correct in spelling FireFox's, or should it simply be FireFox' without the "s"? English is not my native tongue, so I'm not entirely sure.


November 3, 2009, 8:16 pm

alas a version of opera mobile that works on my nokia e51 and impressively so too. that said its a shame that it lacks the native feel of the earlier versions and its interface is designed primarily with touch screen phones in mind


November 3, 2009, 8:23 pm

Still no multithreading in firefox? Come on guys! I agree with you Steve, Firefox has completely stalled in the last couple of years. They need to pull their finger out. When chrome gets addons a LOT of people will be switching, myself included.


November 3, 2009, 8:31 pm

Bookmark syncing? How very 2005. Still, I suppose the more browsers that catch up with five year old technology the more chance we'll actually get some innovation and a decent interface combined with the reliability and speed of a modern browser.


November 3, 2009, 8:32 pm

Thanks for this - I've installed Opera on my N95 8GB and it's lightening quick compared with Skyfire or the native browser. No doubt I'll find a few minor niggles, but looks good so far after a couple of minutes playing.


November 3, 2009, 8:38 pm

@Helmore, I love that feature where you begin typing the name of the site then press "tab" to use it's search engine. I've found you just need to use the search feature on that site once before you can use the TAB feature. Once you begin to use this, you can't go without it.

The interface for chrome is perfect. It's testament to the good colour scheme of the default theme, that EVERY custom theme looks horrendous on Chrome.


November 3, 2009, 8:52 pm

@jopey - FireFox does have multithread and always has as far as I know (I don't know much though). What you're after is a multiprocess browser, which is something a bit different. A multiprocess browser doesn't make the browser faster, it will actually make it a little slower as there is more overhead and memory consumption will go up. It does make the browser more resilient to crashes and can improve security if implemented properly though.


November 3, 2009, 8:58 pm

Until a browser can read my mind, I will never be convinced any beta is major.


November 3, 2009, 9:20 pm

@Helmore No Firefox only runs on one core. If I have browser IRC open and run a couple of video streams it tops out (and it always does top out) at 25% on my quadcore system. So it's not multi-threaded. Each tab having it's own process is different, I get that, that won't necessarily help performance. Multi-threading the main browser will help performance though.


November 3, 2009, 9:30 pm

I think you should do a write up on the pro's and con's of the main browsers.

I feel like I'm missing out.. All I use my browser (Firefox) for is, well, browsing. Can they all be really that different? What makes one browser *miles* better than another?


November 3, 2009, 9:40 pm

Its going to take an awful lot to get me off Firefox with its superb add ons. Personally whilst raw speed is good, for me Firefox is at least twice as quick as anything else due to the useful add ons. For example one add on I have allows me to have any (and I mean any - dabs and iplayer for example) as the search engine for the search bar; changable by simply clicking on the icon. This means I can simply enter my search and then check numerous sites without even going to the home page itself. I believe that rather than the browser itself, I find new and useful add ons far better, however I understand that that browser updates are still crucial.

PS. When Chrome was released it was found to cache (and send to Google) all sites, even secure. Does this still part of chrome, or has the controversy merely died down. (I'm talking about standard rather than the in-private mode)


November 3, 2009, 11:46 pm

@Helmore"Once you have been to a site with a search box it will remember that. The next time you need to search that specific site you just enter the first few letters of the URL, hit 'tab' and enter your search query."

Thank you for this, I didn't know this trick! Very useful, indeed.


November 3, 2009, 11:49 pm

@Helmore - yep, I like that feature in Chrome, but I still much prefer Smart Keywords. And we treat Firefox like sheep or fish, same plural as single, though you could say Firefoxes.


November 4, 2009, 1:31 am

"I think you should do a write up on the pro's and con's of the main browsers"

Surely the pro's & con's can only be decided by the user? There are benefits of all browsers, at least we have a wide choice with each one offering a varied set of features.


November 4, 2009, 3:31 am

@Mik3yB: All the browsers have different features that help you browse. For example, Some of Opera's best features are the wand which fills in passwords at the click of the button, it's undo tabs feature so you can quickly recover a tab you just closed with a flick of the mouse and it's fit to width button which scales those annoyingly wide images or long URLs without changing the size of the text so you don't have to scroll sideways.

Unfortunately, no browser supports all features. Opera is my first choice, but there are at least half a dozen features other browsers support that it doesn't have - some of which have been around for years.

@Helmore: Definitely "Firefox's", "Firefox'" has no obvious pronunciation.


November 4, 2009, 4:01 am

Am I being really stupid or something? What's with the dog??!!!


November 4, 2009, 4:02 am


That tab search has got me unhealthily excited! Used to love Firefox and the extensions but I'm firmly in the Chrome camp now. It really is so much faster. Not just at loading web pages but in general start up and responsiveness too. With Firefox I loved the extensions but they didn't half eat up system resources. Also used to annoy me when I'd want to try a new beta and half of them wouldn't work.


They all do the same thing but you should find that you're far more productive using the right one as having a browser nicely set up can really speed up your web activities.


November 4, 2009, 4:39 am

@Bluepork - hint: it's a FOX ;)


November 4, 2009, 5:32 am

@ravmania - You'll be looking forward to Firefox 4 then, which introduces a new extensions system called Jetpack. Which is supposed to do away with browser restarts and compatibility issues when using extensions:



November 4, 2009, 7:43 am

@Pbryanw - That sounds familiar, oh yes ;)



November 4, 2009, 9:31 am

@Gordon - Hehe, I knew I'd heard about it somewhere, but couldn't remember where :)

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