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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beta Browsers Battle : Chrome, Firefox & Internet Explorer Bring New Options

Of the top five major Web browsers on the market today, three of the most commonly used are Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer; also growing in popularity is Apple’s Safari browser. We’re scrutinizing the first three because each has new or upcoming beta versions on the horizon.

Browser Beta Battle
Before we examine what the betas will deliver, we’ll provide a rundown on the technical differences between each browser.

Google Chrome
Chrome (free; is considered to be the most visually seamless of the top browsers. It features a single box from which you can enter search queries and see suggestions as you type. Opening a new tab reveals thumbnails of your most-visited sites as well as recently closed sites. Chrome uses a “dynamic tabs” functionality that lets you drag tabs quickly so you can shuffle them in a single window or click and drag a tab to create a new browser window. If you want to browse without building any Web history, you can do so in private with Incognito Mode. The crash protection isolates a crashed tab so that it won’t take down the entire window with it. Overall, Chrome offers a no-frills interface for unencumbered browsing, plus the ability to access Web apps via Desktop shortcuts.

Mozilla Firefox
The 6,000-plus customization features available for Mozilla Firefox (free; users make it an ideal browser for those who benefit from a lot of productivity and personalization addons. Visit and you can browse categories that include Alerts & Updates; Games & Entertainment; Photos, Music, & Videos; Social & Communication; and Web Development. With integrated search, Firefox comes with a preloaded Search bar that includes Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, eBay, Wikipedia, and (and you can add hundreds more). To prevent unauthorized spyware downloads, Firefox also asks you for permission to download and install third-party programs. Firefox also includes a Private Browsing feature that doesn’t store browser, search, and download history.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

The current full version of Internet Explorer, IE8 (free; www, relies on fast performance features and secure browsing. Accelerators are essentially Web shortcuts: For example, you can highlight
text, click the blue Accelerator that pops up, and email the highlighted information via Windows Live. Similarly, IE also provides visual search suggestions and a predictive address bar. Safety amenities include
plenty of preventive features to keep malware out and the browser contained; these include cross-site scripting, clickjacking prevention, domain highlighting, InPrivate Browsing, and enhanced browsing history deletion. Compatibility View, one of IE’s incredibly practical features, automatically formats Web pages that are not yet compatible with the browser.

Back To Betas
Each preliminary version of Chrome, Firefox, and IE has its own nuances, so comparing their capabilities
will give you a good idea of which browser might best streamline your particular online experience.

Chrome 9 Beta Many of the unfinalized features that could be included in Chrome 9 are still in the experimental phase, but Google intends for this release to feature safe plug-ins, faster searching, and better 3D graphics. Chrome already supports sandboxing, a technology that restricts malware and hacking to a single tab so that your other tabs and Chrome windows don’t become infected (press Ctrl-Esc to view a list of tab processes when Chrome is running). The beta version applies sandboxing to the Flash Player plug-in to add more protection from malicious hijackers. Google has also added a task manager for
(background) Web apps, accessible via Tools. Those familiar with Google Instant—the search
enhancement that reveals results as you type a query—will appreciate Chrome Instant, a new option that loads a site almost as soon as you type the URL in the address bar (which Google labels the “omnibox”). Chrome 9 will also advance the “3D Web” with WebGL, a 3D graphics API (application programming interface) for JavaScript that supports the development of 3D graphics. There’s no word on an official release date for Chrome 9, but some tech news sources believe it will launch in the first quarter of this year.

Firefox 4 Beta Initially scheduled for release in 2010 Q4, Firefox 4 is inching toward a 2011 Q1 release, likely late in the quarter. Before it rolls out, though, Mozilla wants you to provide feedback on Firefox 4 Beta. The first thing Firefox users will notice is an updated interface that gives your tabs visual priority. You can pin an “App tab” for frequently visited sites, so the site stays in place while you open other tabs. The new sync feature lets you sync up your settings, passwords, bookmarks, history, and tabs on multiple devices that support Firefox. A new Add-ons Manager is easy to locate: Click the Firefox button and select Add-ons to access the Add-ons store, latest updates, and more. Additionally, there is a significant number of appealing features “under the hood,” such as multitouch support, hardware acceleration, and fast scrolling that you will be able to explore on your own.

Internet Explorer 9 Beta In IE9 Beta, the file menu has been reduced to a small Tools icon appearing in the same row as the Home button and Favorites icon. IE9 looks more stripped down compared to previous toolbar-heavy versions, but you can still restore some toolbars (Command, Status, etc.) by right-clicking to the right of the New Tab button and selecting what you want. The Windows 7 integration makes it possible to pin regularly visited sites to the Desktop taskbar. The new download manager alerts you of potentially malicious files. Other new features include color-coded most-visited sites in new tabs and address bar direct search. IE9 also uses the processing power of your GPU to better support multimedia streaming. Although Microsoft continues to make adjustments to IE9 beta, a release date of the full version hasn’t been announced. ▲

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