Safari 5.0.3 released

Apple has released an update for Safari, the default web browser on Mac OS X, but also available on Windows.

This update contains improvements to usability, compatibility, stability, accessibility and security, including the following:

  • More accurate Top Hit results in the Address Field
  • More accurate results in Top Sites
  • Fixes an issue that could cause content delivered with the Flash 10.1 plug-in to overlap webpage content
  • More reliable pop-up blocking
  • Improved stability when typing into search and text input fields on and
  • Improved stability when using JavaScript-intensive extensions
  • Improved stability when using VoiceOver with Safari

For detailed information on the security content of this update, visit this site:

You can update Safari by using Apple's Software Update application, which is available on the Mac from the Apple-logo in the menu bar, or on Windows as a separate icon in the application menu. If you're new to Safari, you can get the entire installer from Apple's Safari web site.

Firefox 4.0 Beta 7 released

Finally after lots of delays and a new roadmap did Mozilla release the seventh beta of the upcoming star of the show, Firefox 4. Being the beta that will sound the beginning of the feature freeze it packs a lot of goodies.

  • Uses JägerMonkey, a new, faster JavaScript engine
  • WebGL is enabled by default on Windows and Mac OS X. WebGL support requires an OpenGL-capable graphics card. Support for other graphics cards on Windows (specifically Intel GPUs) and Linux will be coming in a future beta
  • Certain rendering operations are now hardware-accelerated using Direct3D 9 on Windows XP, Direct3D 10 on Windows Vista and 7, and OpenGL on Mac OS X
  • Improved web typography using OpenType with support for ligatures, kerning and font variants
  • HTML5 Forms API makes web based forms easier to implement and validate

Of course this beta contains all the changes from the previous betas, as well as some other noticeable changes like the disappearance of the status bar. You can download the full binary from Mozilla's web site for all major platforms. Be sure to report bugs back to the good Mozilla folks as this is one major and thus important release.

Opera Mobile 10.1 Beta for Android released

Today Opera Software released their very first native web browser for Android, bringing more choice to one of the most open mobile platforms out there.

Previously Opera Mini 5 was already made available, but with Opera Mobile on it too many people will prefer the full fledged version which is also free. Opera Mobile 10.1 comes with an important list of features, including: (easy) tab management (with thumbnails), Presto rendering engine (instead of WebKit or through Opera Turbo), bookmark sync through Opera Link, Geolocation support and SVG support.

Opera Mobile 10.1 Beta is available in many languages from your local Android Market place. iOS users will have to wait, and wait, and wait, as a version is not planned for this platform (ask Apple). No news yet if Opera Software is porting a Windows Phone 7 release though.

Firefox 4 delayed until early 2011

Today Mozilla officially delayed the release of one of the most anticipated web browser releases of this year. Firefox 4 won't be released this year, but early next year.

Signs of a delay were already clear when the seventh beta of Firefox 4, which also ment as a feature freeze, was delayed for weeks. While originally scheduled for the end of September, it's now planned for early November. Beta 7 will still be a feature freeze, but with all the extra stuff that goes in this release, such as UI polishing, a new and faster JavaScript engine, hardware acceleration on multiple platforms and much more, there is a lot to be tested properly.

So the plan is to additional beta releases (up till beta 10) this year, before the very first release candidate makes it into our hands early 2011. A disappointment, yes, but with Firefox 4 being an important milestone for Mozilla and being feature packed, it's also a good thing that they take the time to optimize and stabilize the release.

Firefox 3.6.12 released

Mozilla has issued a quick release of Firefox 3.6 to address a serious security issue.

The fix is this release concerns Mozilla Security Advisory 2010-73 and is about a heap buffer overflow mixing document.write and DOM insertion. Morten Kråkvik of Telenor SOC reported an exploit targeting particular versions of Firefox 3.6 on Windows XP that Telenor found, while investigating an intrusion attempt on a customer network.

Firefox users will be automatically prompted of a new release. If this doesn't happen (soon enough) you can select the check for updates from the Help menu. Of course you can also download the installer from Mozilla's web site.

Opera 11.0 Alpha released

A week after the announcement Opera Software released the first alpha of Opera 11 today. Sporting support for extensions, we can finally see what they have in store for us.

Of course Opera already came with support for UserJS, which uses client side JavaScripts to manipulate web pages, Unite applications, and Widgets. But extensions should enrich your current browsing experience similar to how Chrome uses extensions. Developers can create extensions using open web standards, such as: HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, along with supported APIs. You can explore creations from both companies and individual developers in the new extensions gallery.

Besides extensions support there is also a fresh new Presto included. Already present in the previous snapshots from Opera 10.70, which has been re-branded, the updated engine offers improved performance, bug fixes, increased web standards support, and WebSockets.

And last but not least there is a new installer for Windows, which should bring 10% smaller binaries, and faster installation/upgrades. Of course other changes from previous snapshot are also available, such as the relocated and renamed bookmarks bar (under the location bar), smarter panel behavior, and more.

You can download the alpha release from Opera's web site, as long as you take note that this is an early release which still contains bugs and not all the features planned for the final release.

Firefox 3.6.11 released

While development on the eagerly awaited Firefox 4 continues, Firefox 3.6 is getting another maintenance update.

The changelog is quite short, but it contains the standard stuff:

Considering the changes, it might not be too exciting, but nonetheless it's recommended for a smooth and security Firefox browsing experience. Existing users will get the update automatically, or can trigger it manually from the Help menu. The full download is available from Mozilla's web site.

Chrome 7.0 released

Fulfilling their promised of more regular releases, Google released Chrome 7.0, bringing a whole slew of changes, regardless of the shorter timespan between releases.

Compared with the previous release Chrome 7.0 includes:

You may think, wow that's not that much, but consider that this was only six weeks of development. As you can see from the changelog hardware acceleration isn't included in this stable release, although it was present in the dev channel. The next release, Chrome 8.0, will most likely include hardware acceleration.

Existing users of Chrome are recommended to update to this release, as it continues stability and security fixes. If all goes well, Chrome will automatically update itself, but it can also be triggered by going to the about screen. The full download is available from Chrome's official web site.

How to make Opera 11 the best next thing

The browser market is the battle ground of war of controlling the web. The web, the infrastructure that connects us all, is inherently more important than the OS platform of your PC or Mac, smart phone or tablet. Last week Opera Software showed a glimpse of the future of their Opera web browser, which on the desktop is simple known as Opera 11.

To best thing for us end users, but also for the web is to have multiple parties offering multiple web browsers powered by different rendering engines. Currently the balance is recovering from the Internet Explorer Ice Age, but the elements that should be balanced aren't by far sharing equal portions of web users. A huge part is taken by Internet Explorer, followed by a Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Opera, which has been in the top for a long time has not been able to get a large portion of the browser market share however.

We could dive into history to see why Opera has not gained much market share, but in this story we're not. Today we focus on what could be possible moves for Opera Software to make Opera 11 the best next thing. Not just for existing Opera users, but also for those using Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

For Opera 11 the biggest feature (announced) is support for (web) extensions. Opera Software has not been doing extensions for a long time (it was first truly popularized by Firefox years ago), as they believe in innovating new features for the masses that will become part of Opera as an application out of the box. Sounds good, as other applications like Office, Windows, Mac OS X, and others also always do. As long as it's useful for a large portion of users it's ok. And that's also why extensions in Opera 11 will be different, they will be open (W3C Widget spec based), and they will be targeted at the (long) long tail of users. We don't all need reddit, Twitter or Facebook as part of our web experience. So for those who do need them extensions will add enriching functionality to the web browser.

At first people will probably be disappointed that it will most likely not give the far fetching access as Firefox does, but it should be near what Chrome offers, aiding stability and security, as you don't leave open hooks into the system.

Separate processes and applications
It would be interesting if Opera 11 would separate some processes in their web browser. Widgets for instance already live stand-alone from the web browser process. The number one recommendation would be to isolate plug-ins. They have much more access than extensions and are able to bring down the entire browser (like Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Silverlight). If you really need to isolate each tab is more or less a debatable point. Firefox doesn't, and as long as your rendering and JavaScript engine are stable (equals quality) it should be less of a concern. It also saves up resources, if you manage it correctly, compared to single processes per domain, tab or window.

The concept of isolation could be expanded beyond just browser. Opera has always been different from the others as Opera represents both a web browser, mail, chat, and bit torrent client. It would be nice, especially from personal experience if mail runs separate from the web browser. If the web browser would suddenly crash or freeze, your mail client can simply run like it always does, minimizing risk and especially controlling the damage done.

Rework the user interface
Chrome set a trend with their minimalistic interface, but Opera contains a bigger package. If the integrated applications could be separated (and as an optional choice during installing), it would unclutter the interface a lot already by removing references to them in the panel, toolbars, and menus.

The Opera skin could use some extra love, previously it has been re-skinned a few times already, but it seems like there is no one at Opera Software who truly does usability like Mozilla (on Firefox) and Google (on Chrome) does. There are no blogs on UI changes, there are no concepts of new ideas. Opera's current look lacks elegance, even if its powerful, it can still look modern and neat. Refresh the looks, make everything pixel perfect. Remove unnecessary items, users can always add them. Remember, like in real life, first impressions are important, no matter what people say.

Keep up with the competition and improve on that
Opera has made massive strides with Presto before, surpassing in my opinion Gecko with ease. It's a portable rendering engine that supports a lot of modern standards. Carakan showed how well Opera Software does. Look at IE limping and Firefox puffing, Safari can't get to it and V8, the top sprinter, has been passed.

But JavaScript isn't everything. Opera needs to keep up with the competition in all areas: add ICCv4 support (v2 isn't even there), platform integration (go native or don't, but don't stand somewhere in between), silent updates, etc. But most important of all new features, add browser migration (import bookmarks is there, but you also need to try and import settings, cookies, history and most important of all passwords). If you don't build bridges to cross, no one will come to you (most drown in the river).

Let's face it, the EU browser choice thingy was both a victory as well as a smack in the face. Some people took in the wrong way, especially since Firefox and Chrome have proven to be accepted by people, without any governmental influence. That's a done case, nothing can be changed. But work on making your image better. When I stroll around for instance I see a lot of negative posts, most of them don't even make sense. Like people who still think you need to pay, or that it doesn't support HTML5 (no one truly does, because it's draft, but everyone, even Opera has partial support), it has no ad blocker (content blocker), etc. It's ok that people don't like something, but the very least that can be done is making everybody informed about your application. Opera contains fine pieces of code, Presto, Carakan, Vega, Unite, Link. Be proud, let yourself be heard, try to advertise on some global sites, strengthen your community, but don't go into a fanboism, or troll-mode.

Once Opera 11 is done, and who knows some of the stuff up hear gets heard, promote the web browser, organize meet-ups, competitions. Let Jon, or others, fight a giant crab or something for PR, show the world the truth of your piece of software.



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