Friday, March 25, 2011

Firefox 4 Overtakes IE9 Within 24 Hours Of Release; Chrome 11 Moves Into Beta

The war of the browsers is heating up further. Even before the dust could settle after the storm, IE9, which was released a week ageo, Mozilla has unleashed its wonder child, Firefox 4. If IE9 shows you the “beauty of the web” Firefox 4 is the “Web O’ Wonder.” The new browser saw 1 million downloads within 3 hours of launch and in 24 hours Firefox 4 was downloaded over 5 million times. Compared to this, IE9 was downloaded nearly 2.5 million times in the same period, but Firefox 3.6 was downloaded 8 million times.

It is not just the download numbers which shows that Firefox 4 has been better accepted than IE9, a report from StatCounter states, that Firefox has taken 1.95 percent of the worldwide internet browser market while IE9 0.87 percent of the worldwide market. The report also states that, when all versions of the browsers are considered, the IE family currently standing at 45 percent, lost 10 percent market-share since Feb 2010. But, the Chrome family gained 10 percent market share during the same time. There has not been much change in Firefox’s standings.
You can check out the present number of downloads from the real-time counter set up by Mozilla. JESS3 has created an video introducing Firefox 4, highlighting its various features.
The first beta of Firefox 4 landed in July 2010, which was followed by 9 other betas and a release candidate, which came earlier this month. Over this long period of development, Mozilla has built a browser that is not only faster but also more streamlined. This iteration of Firefox has some major changes which will bring it back into the race. Some worth mentioning features include:

1. Repositioning of the tabs: The new Firefox resembles the design of Opera and Chrome by placing the tabs above the taskbar. The design of Opera and Chrome made the web users more aware of their visual satisfaction. Gone are the days of the browser being cramped with multiple toolbars. Now, people want more window space and are dependent on extensions and plugins to improve their browsing experience.

2. Inclusion of App Tabs: In Firefox 4 you can turn the frequently visited websites into “App Tabs” which stay in the upper left-hand corner of the browser while you browse other sites. This allows you to return to your favourite sites instantly without getting lost. When there is a new notification in any of the taps, it starts glowing.

3. Ability to switch tabs via taskbar: When you type in the name of websites that are already open, the browser will prompt you to shift to the open tab, instead of opening a new one.

4. Firefox Sync integrated: Firefox Sync allows you to sync your bookmarks, history, passwords, form fill data, open tabs across different computers. Until now this feature was only available and a plugin, but comes integrated with Firefox 4.

5. Panorama: Panorama allows you to organise your tabs into groups using a drag and drop interface. The usability is simple but the functionality makes it one of the best features that Mozilla has come out with.

Firefox 4 also supports HTML5 along with other modern web apps. You can check the demos of new Firefox’s abilities at the Web O’ Wonder page which stores 360-degree videos, animations, in-browser games and other graphic apps.

So, do we have a winner? Although initial figures show that Firefox has overtaken IE9, the browser from Microsoft does have the potential to bounce back as the entire chunk of IE8 users are yet to migrate to its successor.

Both these browsers have features that make it a fight worth witnessing, but it is doubtful if either of them will win. There is a force called Chrome that still exists in this market which has much greater potential than the two biggies. Soon after the release of Firefox 4, Google released the beta version of Chrome 11. Google is hurting Microsoft and Mozilla with its fast paced launch schedule. Google launches a new version of Chrome every six weeks, where as Microsoft and Mozilla take years.

It is not just a new icon that Chrome brings with it, there is lots more than what meets the eye. Now you can talk to your Chrome. Yes, you read it right. Chrome 11 beta supports the HTML5 speech input API. You can try out this demo on your new Chrome browser, to see what’s in store for us. The better part is, its not just Google who can use this. Any developer can use this API to build extensions for Chrome that has the ability to respond to voice inputs. As a matter of fact, we already have the first voice enabled extension — Speechify — from Dugley Labs. The extension allows you to speak your search and actually does work. Although this is not new for mobile technology, such a feature for the web is definitely new.

The new release also packs in previews of the GPU-accelerated 3D CSS. Now developers will also be able to create websites with 3D effects using CSS which will run on Chrome. We soon expect Chrome 11 to come as a stable release and even more features. With such nifty features, Chrome is going to make it even tougher for IE9 and Firefox 4 to gain lost ground.

Although, Firefox has not lost much marketshare to Chrome, what needs to be considered is that, it hasn’t grown either. The once, mighty browser has browser has been cut down to size by a young yet bold competitor. If Firefox doesn’t do something now, it won’t be long before Chrome catches up and crosses it as well, considering, the difference between them is only 13 percent.

Do you think Mcrosoft will be able to turn its fortune with IE9? Or, will Mozilla be able to regain momentum with Firefox 4? What’s your take on the war of the browsers?
Original post at: Firefox 4 Overtakes IE9 Within 24 Hours Of Release; Chrome 11 Moves Into Beta

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