Sunday, August 24, 2008

Browser Wars Continued - IE8, Firefox, Safari, more

I spent some time the past few days on the 'beta box' (which yes, is now running Vista SP1) comparing the very early next generation versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 and Mozilla's Firefox 3.1.

Note: I would not recommend the use of either of these browsers on your 'regular' computer, in a network, or any mission-critical situation.  They are developer releases for those interested in testing, writing code, or seeing how their website 'may' render in the next round of web clients.

While Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 is expected in a week or so, if not sooner, it appears the latest build of Internet Explorer Beta 1 is slightly more stable than it had been. (One of Microsoft's significant challenges still remains a large group of users that still haven't migrated from Internet Explorer 6 to Internet Explorer 7).  This rapidly changing landscape could pose headaches for website and blog designers as new technologies come into play.

Mozilla has been quietly busy ramping-up the next version of Firefox (currently at 3.1alpha2pre). Numerous code changes and improvements are already undergoing testing and recommendation, and a code freeze for the first beta expected in about 2 weeks.

While Mozilla has always been open to community development, Microsoft recently put out a public call for beta testers for IE 8 Beta 2. The 'community' is also part of Microsoft's recommendations for the CSS 2.1 standard to the W3C as well as the WAI-ARIA Rich Internet Applications Suite.

As Firefox as well as Safari (with the unprecedented amount of iPhones now in use) begin to cut into the long dominant Internet Explorer space, it will be interesting to watch the next chapter unfold.  We can only hope, for the developers sake, that the standards remain 'close' if not a true standard for other platforms to build on.

The biggest surprise in this latest round of current and future browser testing was loading up Apple's Safari for Windows 3.1.2 under Vista SP1.  It is rocket fast and now rock stable (and you no longer are forced to download iTunes, Bonjour or Quicktime if you prefer not to).

The latest versions of Flock, Opera and Camino weren't tested in this round but will be over the next few weeks.