Microsoft announced the availability of Internet Explorer 8 today and the preliminary reactions around the net have been pretty good. While betas and RC versions have been floating around for quite a while, the final version of IE8 will be available for your download at Noon EST. With its promised security enhancements, color-coded tabbed browsing and the incorporation of add-on accelerators, IE8 may be worth a try for those who have not already sampled the beta or RC1 versions. Let’s hope Microsoft’s servers can stand up to the demand this time.
Ask, and ask, and ask….and ye shall receive. Mozilla has finally unleashed a functional “Milestone Release” version of its Fennec mobile Firefox browser. Available immediately for anyone with an HTC Touch Pro. The release version is limited in several ways, most notably without support for soft keyboards, automatic version updating, and plugins, but everything else should work more or less as promised. This is exciting news for anyone that has been eagerly anticipating Mozilla’s official move into the mobile space, and hopefully marks the beginning of significant product development for something that will hopefully do to Pocket Internet Explorer/Opera Mini what the desktop version of Firefox has done to its Internet Explorer equivalent, i.e. render it obsolete. Anyone interested in taking the release for a test drive should hit the Read link for access to the CAB file, though we definitely recommend making a complete backup of your handset before proceeding too eagerly.
Read (Warning: CAB file)
According to data from market research firm Net Applications, Microsoft’s web browser market share has dropped below 70 percent in the month of November. Yes, 70 percent is still an overwhelming majority but considering Internet Explorer is said to have peaked with close to 95 percent of the market, this new data represents yet another area where the scales are continuing to level out. Is the era of the Redmond behemoth finally coming to an end? Not any time soon of course, but Microsoft is indeed having its fortress walls slowly chipped away in nearly every major area of its business. Windows OS market share, Microsoft’s bread and butter, is at a 15-year low and MSN / Microsoft Live Search usage is hovering between 5 and 8 percent of the market, depending on whose numbers you look at. Internet Explorer represents yet another area where Redmond is faltering and Microsoft is showing no signs of movement that might slow the burn. Conversely, Mozilla’s Firefox jumped above 20 percent in November – the first time it has maintained a share over 20 percent for a full month since Net Applications began tracking relevant data.
[Via Silicon Alley Insider]
If anyone knows how to make a browser powerful, but user-friendly, it’s Mozilla. Fennec is going to be no different in terms of their end goal for the mobile browser. First, they intend to use every last bit of screen real-estate to the browser, removing all controls, tabs, and buttons that would take away from the body of the page. Sullivan says they want to “give over the entire screen of the device to the Web content, removing all user-interface controls entirely.” How will a user navigate, you ask? Certain screen controls and finger swipes (for touchscreens) will activate the UI controls in a snap. If that isn’t cool enough for you, future versions may also include support for haptic feedback. While this is all cool and snazzy, Fennec has its work cut out because the others (Safari, Opera, Blackberry, Symbian) have established themselves and are still making progress. For more info on Fennec and what its future holds, hit the link!
Steve Ballmer has been all over the globe lately. First, he was in South Korea teaming up with LG for a future with Windows Mobile in LG smartphones. This week, he made his way to Australia with those loud, powerful and rather obnoxious words, “Developers, developers, developers!” But the excitement died down quickly when a student at Power to Developers event asked, “Why is IE still relevant and why is it worth spending money on rendering engines when there are open source ones available that can respond to changes in Web standards faster?” Ballmer’s response was that the question was “cheeky, but a good question, but cheeky”. Right, that’s when you know you’ve struck a nerve. After treating the crowd to his usual rant about looking to and anticipating the future, all Ballmer could really say about open-source browsers was that they are “interesting.” Very similar to his feelings about Google’s Android platform.
Open source is interesting. Apple has embraced Webkit and we may look at that, but we will continue to build extensions for IE 8.
So it looks like Microsoft is probably going there, but not all the way there. Catch the drift? Even then, if Microsoft were to show an iota of interest in open source engines like WebKit, it could be huge news for third-party developers and in turn, to end users. We’ll have to wait and see where Microsoft is going with this, but don’t go thinking they’re ready to open up and embrace open source quite yet.
UPDATE: It’s available today.
[Via The Register]