After several delays, we were beginning to wonder if Firefox 3.1 would ever see the light of day beyond a beta release, and as it turns it out, it's not going to. Instead, Mozilla has renamed the once 'fast-track' update to 3.5 with a fourth beta scheduled for April 14, 2009.
"The increase in scope represented by TraceMonkey and Private Browsing, plus the sheer volume of work that's gone into everything from video and layout to places and the plugin service make it a larger increment than we believe is reasonable to label ".1". 3.5 will help set expectations better about the amount of awesome that's packed into Shiretoko," said Mike Shaver, Mozilla's engineering VP.
Shaver went on to say that the version change to 3.5 is indicative of the current scope and not intended to represent a significant increase 3.5's current make-up.
Still no word on when the next version of Firefox will go Gold, though if we had to guess, we'd say either May or June of this year.
Anyone who may have thought the death of Netscape would signal the end of the browser wars, boy were they mistaken. In fact, it could be argued that it was at that point it all began. It didn't take long for Mozilla's Firefox to emerge from Netscape Navigator's ashes, and over time, Firefox would win over enthusiasts with a potent combination of speed, security, and an unprecedented level of customization.
But what started as a two-man battle is quickly growing into all-out warfare. Prepare to be overwhelmed by an onslaught of new browser releases in the coming months as Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple, Opera Software, and Google all vie to provide your vehicle for navigating the web. Each one brings something new to the table, whether it be blazing fast performance or a unique feature-set. Don't worry if you haven't been paying attention - we jump in the trenches with whole lot of them and get to know each one on a personal basis.
Hit the jump to find out everything there is to know about the browsers of today and tomorrow!
First things first - if you haven't already, read through our comprehensive mega-roundup of nine browsers, which includes both stable and beta releases, and even a browser still in the alpha stage. Up to speed? Good, let's move on.
As noted, we didn't see too much terribly different with Firefox 3.1 beta 2 over the currently shipping version, 3.0.6. A third beta was originally scheduled for an early January release, but lingering bugs prompted Mozilla to hold off on taking Firefox 3.1 beta 3 live. Left to bake a little while longer, Mozilla now appears ready to serve up the third beta, which it plans to do on March 10th at 2PM PST, according to the company's updated release schdule.
In other words, beta 3 might not be as fully cooked as Mozilla hoped, but at least some developers were feeling frustrated with the development process taking too long. Combined with 3.1's expanded scope, the question has been raised whether it might make more sense to rename the final version 3.5 instead of 3.1, just as Firefox 1.1 was renamed to 1.5.
Stay tuned, as we'll continue to follow the development of Mozilla's browser, no matter what version number the company settles on.
The official release of Windows 7 might still be several months away, but that isn't stopping Nvidia from preparing for Vista's successor with new graphics drivers aimed at Windows 7 beta users. The new drivers are available now, and Nividia promises this is just the start of a regular driver release schedule. Remember that shortly after Vista debuted, Microsoft blamed buggy Nvidia drivers for giving the OS a bad rap.
"Since its release last month, the Windows 7 Beta has been eagerly tested by hundreds of thousands of NVIDIA GeForce owners, who are excited about the many graphical improvements Microsoft has added into the upcoming operating system," said Ujesh Desai, vice president of GeForce desktop business at NVIDIA.
Nvidia says it has been working closely with Microsoft so that its new drivers will take full advantage of the additional features and functionality Windows 7 brings to the table. Kicking off with v181.71, Nvidia's graphics drivers support the new Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) v1.1. The drivers also support SLI on DX9, 10, and OpenGL applications, PhysX, CUDA, and Direct3D, Direct2D, and DirectWrite.
The once two-man bout between IE and Firefox has turned into a five-way blood fest in the battle for browser market share. With each contender jockeying for position, Apple's Safari 4 beta, which was recently released to the public, has been particularly well received, breaking 10 percent market share on February 28 for the first time.
Interestingly, despite Safari 4 having a strong debut, Safari's overall market share for the month of February dropped slightly from 7.70 to 7.42 percent. Meanwhile, Firefox continued to gain ground, increasing from 21.75 to 21.96 percent. Internet Explorer remained virtually the same, going from 68.18 to 68.17 percent.
The browser wars are set to heat up in the coming months as nearly everyone has an upgrade on tap. These include Safari 4 (beta), Internet Explorer 8 (beta), Firefox 3.1 (beta), and Opera 10 (alpha), as well as continued development on Google's Chrome browser (beta).
Attention Windows 7 beta users, up to five (5), I said f-i-v-e test updates are coming via Windows Update tomorrow (February 24). These updates are strictly for testing purposes, our friends in Redmond tell us. By the way, you must install these updates manually via Windows Update - even if you run WU in Automatic mode. BTW Mark 2: these updates replace some system files with the same version that's already on your system.
So, what's the point of running WU and selecting these updates? Mama Microsoft want to make sure it can update Windows 7 properly. Don't want to play? See the Microsoft Update Team Blog to learn more.
Procrastinators take note, your window of opportunity to beta test Microsoft's next operating system is closing fast. You have until 11:59 PM PST today to begin downloading Windows 7 (from Microsoft, anyway), and will have until 9 AM PST Thursday to finish the download, Microsoft said. It's the general public who are being cut off by tonight's deadline; MSDN and TechNet subscribers will still have access.
If you miss the deadline, you'll have another opportunity when Microsoft releases its next test version of Windows 7, which the software maker says will closely resemble the final release. When that version of Windows 7 will arrive has not yet been announced.
This is also a good time to remind users that Windows Vista beta testers who submitted a legitimate bug report ended up being eligible to receive a free copy of Vista Business or Ultimate. Microsoft has made no mention of doing anything similar for Windows 7 beta testers, so you'll have to decide for yourself how motivated you are to spend some hands-on time with Vista's successor.
In case you missed the earlier stories, MaximumPC readers and many others have been concerned about how easy it was for malware to change UAC levels and subvert the new and allegedly improved User Account Control in Windows 7.
To find out what's changing - and who deserves the credit - join us after the jump.
So, what is it about Windows 7's UAC that makes it vulnerable? As Zhen puts it:
Windows is a platform that welcomes third-party code with open arms. A handful of these Microsoft-signed applications can also execute third-party code for various legitimate purposes. Since there is an inherent trust on everything Microsoft-signed, by design, the chain of trust inadvertently flows onto other third-party code as well. A phenomenon I’ve started calling “piggybacking”.
To demonstrate, one of the many Microsoft-signed applications that can be taken advantage of is “RUNDLL32.exe”. With a simple “proxy” executable that does nothing more than launch an elevated instance of "RUNDLL32 pointing to a malicious payload DLL, the code inside that DLL now inherits the administrative privileges from its parent process "RUNDLL32" without ever prompting for UAC or turning it off.
It sounds serious, but before you jump to conclusions, join us after the jump for Microsoft's response and a workaround.