Browser Beta Roundup: Firefox 3.6b1, Chrome 4

ffchromlogosThe browser war continues to rage unabated, with the end result being better products for us, the users. This past week has seen significant beta updates to my two favorite browsers: Chrome and Firefox. I’ve been playing with beta 1 of Mozilla’s Firefox 3.6. This new version of Firefox boasts improved performance, personas (the ability to easily switch between different skins for your browser), and updated support for web standards, including support for the Web Open Font Format (WOFF).

Firefox 3.6b1 seems quite stable and certainly feels a wee bit faster than 3.5, so to test it out I ran it through the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark on my test machine. This new version got a score of 1996 ms, which is quite an improvement over 3.5’s score of 2500 ms.

Meanwhile, as reported by Kevin over at jkOnTheRun, the new beta of Google Chrome 4 on Windows sports a fancy mechanism that syncs bookmarks across devices almost instantly — very handy if you work on a few different machines. The bookmark syncing mechanism uses XMPP (the same technology used by Google Talk) to share the bookmarks. As Kevin notes, surely secure sharing of passwords and cookies must be in the cards as well.

Running the Chrome 4 beta through the same SunSpider benchmark test, I got a score of 1122 ms, which beats Firefox by a considerable margin and is even faster than the last version of Chrome that I tested.

While in real life usage it doesn’t feel like there’s much difference between the two betas, as we come to rely more on JavaScript-heavy web apps, performance becomes increasingly important — so the great improvement in the benchmark scores shown by both of these new betas is encouraging.

If you’re trying out either of these betas, let us know what you think of them below.

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