While the Opera web browser may not have the largest market share, it is the source off many browser innovations. Tabbed browsing got its start in Opera, and the browser was one of the first to broadly support emerging standards like HTML5 and CSS 3.
The second beta release is primarily a slew of bug fixes and doesn’t offer much in the way of new features. Still, if you’ve been enjoying the first beta, this release should make the experience a little more stable. And now Mac users can get into the party as well, though 10.5 beta 2 is unfortunately only available for Windows users. Mac users are only caught up as far as Opera 10.5 beta 1.
Also worth mentioning is that native HTML5 video is working in both Windows and Mac version of Opera 10.5 beta. Opera joins Firefox as the second browser to go with the Ogg Theora codec for native web video.
Mozilla has announced the first release candidate of the next Firefox web browser.
This latest pre-release build of Firefox 3.6 has seen numerous bug fixes since beta 5, including the usual improvements in browser performance and stability. Existing beta users should have received Firefox 3.6rc1 over the weekend. If not, head to the Help menu and choose “Check for Updates.” If you’re not involved in the beta testing yet, you can download Firefox 3.6rc1 from Mozilla’s website.
Mike Beltzner, who heads Firefox development at Mozilla, tells Webmonkey that the final version of the browser should be released, “in the next couple of weeks.”
So, this will likely be the final pre-release version of Firefox 3.6. Beltzner remains optimistic that there will be no more changes, but a second release candidate isn’t out of the question.
The RC stage is when the code is fully complete, and it’s usually the point where web designers and add-on developers can confidently begin testing their creations to make sure they’ll work as intended once the final release arrives. Most start their testing early, however — Mozilla reports that over 75 percent of Firefox Add-ons have now been upgraded to be compatible with Firefox 3.6 betas, including the ever-popular Greasemonkey.
Sadly, two of our favorite web development add-ons, Yahoo’s YSlow and Google’s recently released Page Speed tool have yet to update for Firefox 3.6. If you’d like to help out the developers of your favorite add-on, grab the Add-on Compatibility Reporter, which, among other things, allows you to run add-ons that haven’t yet been updated.
Given that this is a release candidate, there are no flashy new features to speak of. But there have been some final bug fixes added since the fifth beta was released in December 2009.
It’s looking like Firefox 3.6 will miss its 2009 release goal, but the browser should arrive shortly after the start of the new year.
Firefox 3.6, currently in the final beta-release stages, will arrive in the first quarter of 2010, according to Mozilla Wiki. The slight delay is having a ripple effect, however, because future Firefox releases have been rescheduled as well. Mozilla has already pushed back its road map for both Firefox 3.7 and 4.0.
Once Firefox 3.6 is out the door, Firefox 3.7 (a fairly minor, incremental release) shouldn’t be too far behind, but we may have to wait until 2011 before the next major revision roles around. According to recent Mozilla meeting notes, Firefox 4.0 won’t come around until late 2010 or early 2011.
Despite the distant release dates, Mozilla is already hard at work on both Firefox 3.7 and 4.0. Judging by the current schedule, Firefox 3.7 will bring a few updates and possibly a slightly tweaked theme, but we’ll have to wait for 4.0 before we see any big changes and new features.
So what can you expect in Firefox 4.0 when it finally does arrive? Well, on the new features side of things, most of the answers lie in Mozilla Labs. JetPack, which was recently updated to version 0.7, is on the short list, as is Weave, a tool that syncs your Firefox installations across PCs. There’s even a chance that some elements of Ubiquity, the “command-line for the web,” might be integrated into the Firefox 4.0 Awesomebar.
Under the hood, Firefox 4.0 will feature an update to the Gecko rendering engine, with more HTML5 and CSS 3 support as well as speed improvements. One major goal is to reduce startup times by 25 percent.
But the biggest change will likely be the introduction of Electrolysis.
Electrolysis is the name of a Mozilla project that will split Firefox into multiple processes — one for the user interface, one for plug-ins and one for each tab. Similar functionality is already being seen in other clients, like Google Chrome. As in Chrome, a crash in a single tab will no longer be able to bring down the entire browser. Also, we can expect Electrolysis to make Firefox faster and more stable overall.
Firefox 4.0 will also likely feature a revamped look, possibly with a Chrome-like “tabs on top” user interface and a new, more feature-rich “home tab.” If you’d like to have a say in the look and feel of future Firefox release, check out the current Mozilla design challenge.
The addition of some Chrome-like features is no coincidence. Chrome’s arrival and its subsequent innovations have accelerated developments in the browser market. All the attention being paid to the younger browser puts Mozilla in danger of losing some of the user base it has worked so hard to capture over the last five years. The potential 2011 release date of Firefox 4.0 means that before that next big Firefox upgrade arrives, there will likely be a significant update to Google Chrome, a new version of Safari and possibly even a release of Internet Explorer 9.
Opera has pushed out a pre-alpha build of the next version of its flagship desktop web browser. For Opera 10.5, as the next version will be known, the focus is on speed, and while this pre-alpha release is a long way from done, the speed boost is already noticeable.
This pre-alpha release is currently only available for Windows and Mac OS X users. Opera says a Linux version will be released soon. If you’d like to test out Opera 10.5, download links can be found at the bottom of the Opera Labs announcement page.
Also new under the hood is support for CSS3 transitions and transforms, which means that the cool CSS 3 transform tricks we told you about last week will work in this version of Opera (note that you’ll need to add the Opera flag to your CSS code, for example, -o-transition-property).
Opera is also one of the last browsers to jump on the private-browsing-mode bandwagon, but it is finally here in this release.
As you would expect from the pre-alpha designation Opera 10.5 is also somewhat unstable, but if you’d like to test out the latest release, head over to the Opera Labs page and grab a copy.
Five betas is an unusually high number for a Firefox release, but the latest package clears most of the remaining blocking bugs. This means the final release of Firefox 3.6 is likely just around the corner.
Given that we’re so close to the final release, Firefox 3.6 beta 5 doesn’t contain any significant new features. It does, however, bring some very welcome bug fixes, including a couple of annoying scrolling bugs we’ve had to deal with in previous beta releases.
This release also fixes a bug that would occasionally cause Firefox to crash on the Twitter login page, and worse, would expose passwords in plain text.
The other big of good news for this release is that Add-on developers are getting ready for the final release of Firefox 3.6. Mozilla reports that over 70 percent of Firefox Add-ons have now been upgraded to be compatible with Firefox 3.6 Beta, including the ever-popular Greasemonkey.
Sadly two of our favorite web development add-ons, Yahoo’s YSlow and Google’s recently released Page Speed tool have yet to update for Firefox 3.6. If you’d like to help out the developers of your favorite add-on, grab the Add-on Compatibility Reporter, which, among other things, allows you to run add-ons that haven’t yet been updated.