Browser Updates: A Faster Version of Chrome, and More

This week brings several pieces of significant news on the browser front, about Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 8. As covered on the OStatic blog, Google has announced a new, stable version 3.0 of Chrome. It’s downloadable here, and if you’re already using it, you’ll get an automatic update. Meanwhile, Mozilla announced new tools, and Internet Explorer — which has been steadily losing market share, to Firefox in particular — bested all other browsers in an interesting set of tests.

Chrome 3.0. Google’s announcement post on Chrome 3.0 provides walkthroughs of several of the new features in the browser. There are improvements to the Omnibox, which is the combination search/address bar in Chrome. You can now get drop-down lists in the Omnibox that show not only URLs, but also bookmarks, search options and more. Themes are also now supported in Chrome, and there are also HTML5 enhancements, which could make working with video and audio much more flexible.

Probably the biggest news about Chrome of all, though, is that the JavaScript performance is much improved. Below are Google’s own benchmark charts showing JavaScript tests (bigger is better in the first chart, and smaller is better in the second one).

Internet Explorer 8. I rarely use Internet Explorer any more, and I feel that most of the meaningful innovation is going on in the open-source browsers, with Firefox and Chrome leading the way. However, AnandTech came out this week with a very interesting browser face-off, which focused entirely on which browser preserves battery life the best on portable computers. The surprise winner was IE 8. The tests involved constantly loading and unloading various browsers and tracking battery life. I would have thought Chrome or Opera would win in these kinds of tests, but no.

Firefox and SeaMonkey. Mozilla released its Jetpack project a few months ago, and this week it updated Jetpack to version 0.5. Jetpack is an API and framework designed to make building extensions for Firefox easy enough for non-developers. You can get the new Jetpack here, and create your own extensions. Meanwhile, Mozilla has also released a second beta of version 2.0 of its SeaMonkey project, which is a collection of Internet apps. At the core of the collection, there is a speedy browser based on the same engine that Firefox uses. You also get a simple HTML editor, IRC chat functions, and more.

Is IE8’s apparently low power consumption enough of a reason to use it?

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