Updated: Firefox 3.6.10 released

Mozilla released a new version of their popular Firefox browser, bring the version up to 3.6.9. As it contains stability and security bug fixes it's recommended that everybody upgrades.

  • Introduced support for the X-FRAME-OPTIONS HTTP response header. Site owners can use this to mitigate clickjacking attacks by ensuring that their content is not embedded into other sites.
  • Fixed several security issues, 10 critical, 1 high, 1 moderate, 2 low
  • Fixed several stability issues

As always, the download should appear automatically, but can be triggered manually from the Help menu. If you want the full binary for offline installation and distribution, you can get it from Mozilla's web site.

Update: A new beta has been released to address stability problems found in the previous release.

Happy birthday Chrome, 6 released

It has been two exciting years and Google Chrome has come a long way. Celebrating the second birthday of Chrome, Google released the sixth version, which still shows much of the original intentions Google had when the project was first presented to the public: speed, simplicity and security.

Two years ago Chrome was a lot different than every browser we've seen. Sporting a simplified look that fits right in with Google's own search portal as well as Gmail, it also presented a beautiful inside. For the first time we saw a multi-process software architecture, meaning tabs/windows, plug-ins (and later extensions and GPU acceleration) were all running in separate processes. This introduced more stability, but also security, as each process cannot access the other. Speed was also an important factor. Using WebKit instead of Gecko meant a lot of less bloat and adding V8 as the fastest JavaScript engine ever seen (at that time) caused a race amongst web browser, issuing a new stage in the browser war.

The choices made back then are still ever present. Google Chrome development is still going strong, while maintaining their principles. It feels fast, ultra fast and it's being tweaked further and further with each release. Chrome 6 introduces a new polished UI that combined the page and tools menu into one and most noticeable a new way of presenting a menu, for instance the cut/copy/paste menu is on one line. Also new is the syncing of autofilled data and extensions, surpassing anything else like Firefox Sync and Opera Link. Of course the usual focus on security, stability and speed remains, making this still one of the fastest releases in Chrome's short history.

Currently Chrome is growing and growing, securing a solid third place behind Internet Explorer, Firefox. With the current feature set they have nothing to fear from Firefox 4, as Mozilla is still working hard on getting their web browser on equal ground. Users of Chrome will get their update automatically (it can be triggered from the About menu). If you haven't, try Google Chrome, it's available for Windows, Linux and Mac.

Chrome 7 graphics overhaul

Most of us have a GPU these days, a powerful one that is. GPUs from AMD (previously ATI) and NVIDIA are work horses which offer unparalleled performance in graphical and (specific) computational tasks. Efforts like OpenCL or Direct Compute exist to lend the GPU for normal applications, but it seems that web browsers specifically are taking the lead.

DVD and Blu-ray players from like PowerDVD or WinDVD, but also the recent Adobe Flash Player 10.1 use the GPU to accelerate video playback (MPEG 2, MPEG 4 with H.264). Not only does CPU usage drop, it can also help in battery usage, as GPUs are more optimized for such tasks (and swallow less due to their efficiency).

Web browsers are actually also graphics intensive applications, especially with technologies being added like direct video playback with the video-tag, scalable vector graphics, intense use of the canvas (2D/3D) element, CSS transformations (demo-ed in Safari 5) and of course WebGL (an OpenGL ES stack using JavaScript). Internet Explorer 9 was one of the first to have hardware acceleration (although Opera already made plans with their Vega library, which now is the fastest software renderer), but isn't in beta phase yet. The developers of Firefox are also working on it, but it's disabled by default in Firefox 4 betas due to its immaturity at this time.

But there is also a new contender, Google Chrome 7 is entering the arena, while Chrome 6 is still in beta. Chrome 7 (and probably successors) aim to add more and more GPU support where possible, and the current development build has some parts included already. Continuing the multi-process architecture, the GPU accelerations lives in its own process, which is good for security measurements. As it's quite a big overhaul for the graphics sub-system, it will not be completely accelerated just yet. Some parts are, some parts aren't, but with Google's intentions and quick development, it's exciting to see who'll be king of GPU accelerated browsing this year!

Firefox 4.0 Beta 4 released

As promised, Mozilla released the fourth beta of Firefox 4, bringing a few new features while stabilizing other parts as well. Development may not go as fast as some would have liked, but Mozilla seems focused on getting the right features in.

  • Firefox 4 Beta 4 is available in 39 languages.
  • Firefox Sync is now included by default.
  • Users can organize their tabs using Firefox Overview.
  • An experimental API is included to provide more efficient Javascript animations.
  • Firefox now supports the HTML5 video "buffered" property.
  • See the complete changelist from the previous beta.

As always the full binary download is available, existing beta users will receive the update automatically (or by triggering it from the Help menu). Good luck with hunting bugs!

Firefox 4.0 Beta 3 released

Development work on Firefox 4 is going strong, beta 4 is expected to appear sometime next week.

  • Firefox 4 Beta 3 is available in 34 languages.
  • Web authors can now get touch events from Firefox users on Windows 7 machines.
  • A new way of representing values in JavaScript that allows Firefox to execute heavy, numeric code (used for things like graphics and animations) more efficiently.
  • See the complete changelist from the previous beta.

You can download the full binary from Mozilla, existing Firefox 4 testers will get the update automatically (or manually by checking for updates from the Help menu).

Opera 10.61 released

A bit behind in the news, but Opera Software released a maintenance build of their popular Opera web browser. As always this is a recommended release, as it contains several security fixes as well.

User interface

  • "Fraud Protection" renamed to "Fraud and Malware Protection"
  • Relative paths not working in the Filename setting for Speed Dial background
  • Premature shutdown when using vBulletin's WYSIWYG editor
  • Loading an animated png causes high CPU usage with no response from the browser
  • yahoo.cn mailproviders SMTP entry not using a submission port
  • Changing the default cookie preference to "Accept all cookies"
  • Installing Opera 10.60 windows overwrites saved search preferences

Display and Scripting

  • Google Calendar compatibility
  • Unite listening on UDP 1900 even if UPnP service discovery is off
  • Several cases where widgets will not run
  • Premature shutdown when loading qq.com
  • Setting the onload property of XMLHttpRequest blocks document memory from being garbage collected
  • Opera treating binary files as plain text (opening it in the browser instead of showing a download dialog)
  • Premature shutdown when loading the Canvas demo
  • Printing from print preview results in either a freeze or corrupted page
  • Widgets not having access to a network after restart
  • "Accept cookies" and "only from the site I visit" settings being incorrect in Preferences dialog
  • Premature shutdown occurring on startup of Opera under Windows 98
  • Disk cache not working correctly in turbo mode

Security

  • Fixed an issue where heap buffer overflow in HTML5 canvas could be used to execute arbitrary code, as reported by Kuzzcc
  • Fixed an issue where unexpected changes in tab focus could be used to run programs from the Internet, as reported by Jakob Balle and Sven Krewitt of Secunia
  • Fixed an issue where news feed preview could subscribe to feeds without interaction, as reported by Alexios Fakos

You can download Opera 10.61 from Opera's official web site, or if you already have an older release an update notification will appear automatically (or manually from the Help menu).

Safari 5.0.1 released, with extensions

Apple has released Safari 5.0.1 a maintenance release for their popular WebKit based web browser. For the first extensions are now enabled by default, bringing the ability to alter the web browser to the rest of the world.

When Safari 5.0 was released Apple already unveiled support for extensions, which could be enabled in the developer's menu. This was done to give the internet community the time to research and develop extensions for Safari. This is one of the first and rare moments where Apple actually allows other companies to alter their product experience, instead of one well defined by Apple.

In honor to celebrate this event (following Firefox and Chrome), Apple launched the official Safari Extensions Gallery. On this Apple hosted web site several big names like Twitter, Bing, and Amazon have taken their spots to promote their web site enriching extensions. Such as being able to tweet from the browser instead of the web site, look up addresses directly in Bing, and adding items right away to your Amazon wish list. Of course almost traditional extensions like AdBlock exist and will find some exciting new users in Apple's top notch web browser.

But besides extensions there are several bug fixes as well:

  • More accurate Top Hit results in the Address Field
  • More accurate timing for CSS animations
  • Better stability when using the Safari Reader keyboard shortcut
  • Better stability when scrolling through MobileMe Mail
  • Fixes display of multipage articles from www.rollingstone.com in Safari Reader
  • Fixes an issue that prevented Google Wave and other websites using JavaScript encryption libraries from working correctly on 32-bit systems
  • Fixes an issue that prevented Safari from launching on Leopard systems with network home directories
  • Fixes an issue that could cause borders on YouTube thumbnails to disappear when hovering over the thumbnail image
  • Fixes an issue that could cause Flash content to overlap with other content on www.facebook.com, www.crateandbarrel.com, and other sites when using Flash 10.1
  • Fixes an issue that prevented boarding passes from www.aa.com from printing correctly
  • Fixes an issue that could cause DNS prefetching requests to overburden certain routers
  • Fixes an issue that could cause VoiceOver to misidentify elements of webpages

You can update your existing Safari from Apple's Software Update (on Windows this is a menu entry, on Mac OS you can find it under the Apple menu). Of course a full download is also possible from Apple's web site. Anyway, enjoy this newly updated contender in the browser space who does introduce extensions for their web browser, following the lead of two big alternatives.

Firefox 4.0 Beta 2 released

Continuing the development of the eagerly anticipated Firefox 4, a second beta release has been made. The releases are intentionally released often to have a better and up-to-date testing experience for those involved.

Although it remains a beta, it is interesting to see how Firefox 4 matures to a stable release this year. Presently it's not recommended for normal end users to use this build for daily purposes, but it is safe to take a look at what is to come.

As usual with betas, the changes are numerous:

  • Firefox 4 Beta 2 is available in 24 languages.
  • Tabs are now on top by default on Windows and OSX - Linux will be changing when the theme has been modified to support the change.
  • You can turn any tab into an "App Tab" by right-clicking on it and selecting "Make into App Tab" from the context menu.
  • Web developers can animate content using CSS Transitions.
  • Responsiveness and scrolling improvements from the new retained layers layout system.
  • JavaScript speed improvements due to engine optimizations.
  • Changes to how XPCOM components are registered in order to help startup time and process separation.

You can find the entire release notes of this and the previous beta release at Mozilla's site. If you like new web stuff than this Firefox 4 build will make you happy. Remember to give your feedback once you've downloaded and installed it.

Firefox 3.6.8 released

Continuing the normal stream of maintainence builds, Mozilla issued a new Firefox which has several stability and security fixes.

The current changelog is meager, but the Bugzilla entry has much more:

  • Fixed several security issues: 8 critical, 2 high, 4 moderate
  • Fixed several stability issues

You can download the entire file from Mozilla's site, existing users will be automatically updated, or by selecting it from the Help menu.

Update: Mozilla issued a new release dubbed Firefox 3.6.8 that fixes a single stability issue affecting some pages containing plug-ins.

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