Tag Archive: chrome


If you’re still accessing our web based room booking and resource scheduling software MIDAS via a Windows XP or Windows Vista machine, you’ll want to read this!

As you should be aware, Windows XP and Vista are now considered obsolete operating systems which are no longer supported or maintained by Microsoft.

As a result, over the past few years major browser vendors have been slowly dropping support and updates for their products in these operating systems.

For instance, the most “recent” version of Internet Explorer that can be run on Windows XP is IE8 (MIDAS requires at least IE9). For a while this wasn’t a major issue as XP/Vista users could simply switch to either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox instead (both of which were still being actively updated by the respective vendors on these operating systems).

However, Google announced back in November 2015 that Chrome would no longer be supported or receive updates on Windows XP or Windows Vista after April 2016.

Since then, Firefox has been the only major browser to continue supporting and providing updates on Windows XP and Vista.

Firefox on Windows XP/Vista This week, Mozilla have now announced that Firefox 52 (due for release in March 2017) will be the last version of their browser to receive updates on Windows XP and Vista.

Whilst Firefox 52 will still work on XP/Vista after March 2017, it will no longer receive updates. At this point, none of the modern major web browsers that are supported in MIDAS will continue to be updated on these operating systems.

We are therefore advising the handful of MIDAS users who currently still access their scheduling systems via Windows XP or Vista to upgrade their operating systems as soon as possible to ensure their web browser(s) are kept up-to-date and they’re able to continue using MIDAS in the future.

Browser Logos

We put the latest web browsers head-to-head to try to find out which one is best!

In developing a powerful and feature-rich browser based room booking and resource scheduling system that’s supported in all five major browsers, we often get asked “So, which is the best web browser?”.

This time last year we put Chrome 23, Firefox 16, Internet Explorer 9 & 10, Opera 12 and Safari 5 head-to-head

Now, twelve months on, and less than a week since Internet Explorer 11 became available for Windows 7, Firefox celebrated its ninth birthday, and just a day after Google Chrome 31 is released, we decided it was high time to once again put the latest web browsers offerings “head-to-head” and independently, rigorously test and benchmark them to find out which one of the five major browsers is currently “the best”….

Browsers Tested

Google Chrome 31 Mozilla Firefox 25 Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 Opera 17 Apple Safari 5
Google Chrome 31 Mozilla Firefox 25 Internet Explorer 11 Opera 17 Apple Safari 5

The Tests

We broadly tested four key areas of browser performance: Speed, Memory Usage, Compliance with standards, and Javascript Performance.

1. Speed

Browser Benchmark: Cold Start The “Cold Start” test measures the time taken to load up the browser upon its first run after a computer reboot. This is measured from the point at which the browser is executed until the point at which its user interface (UI) is ready to accept input.

Browser Benchmark: Non-Cold Start The “Non-Cold Start” test measures the time taken to load up the browser on second and subsequent runs after its first run after a reboot. This is measured from the point at which the browser is executed until the point at which the user interface (UI) is ready to accept input.

Browser Benchmark: Initial Page Load Times With the browser open, an empty cache, and showing a blank page (about:blank), the “Page Load Time (No-Cached Load)” test measures the time taken to completely load a complex webpage. This is measured from the point at which the “Enter” key is pressed on the URL in the browser’s address bar until the point at which the test webpage has fully loaded (as reported by an “onLoad” event on the test webpage).

Browser Benchmark: Page Cache Load Times With the browser open, and the test webpage already loaded in a single tab, the “Page Load Time (Reload from Cache)” test measures the time taken to reload a complex webpage. This is measured from the point at which the F5 key (refresh) is pressed until the point at which the test webpage has fully reloaded (as reported by an “onLoad” event on the test webpage).

2. Memory Usage

Browser Benchmark: Base Memory Usage The “Base Memory Usage (Blank Tab)” test measures the amount of memory used by the browser with just a single blank (about:blank) tab open.

Browser Benchmark: Memory Usage with 10 open tabs The “Memory Usage (10 open tabs)” test measures the amount of memory used by the browser with 10 tabs open, each displaying the home page of a popular website.

3. Compliance

Browser Benchmark: HTML5 Standards Compliance The “HTML5 Compliance” test measures how well each browser conforms to the current state of the HTML5 specification.

Browser Benchmark: CSS3 Standards Compliance The “CSS3 Compliance” test measures how well each browser conforms to the current state of the CSS3 specification.

4. Javascript Performance

There are a number of different Javascript Performance Benchmark tests available today, all of which give quite different results. We’ve analyzed results from 6 of the most popular Benchmarking Tests and aggregated the results below:
Browser Benchmark: Javascript Performance Individual details of each of the 6 individual Javascript benchmark test suits used to arrived at these aggregated scores may be found in our full test report, available to view/download at the end of this page.

Summary

Category Test Winner Runner Up
Speed Cold Start FF25 IE11
Non-Cold Start IE11 SF5.1
Page Load Time (Non-Cached Load) OP17 IE11
Page Load Time (Reload from Cache) GC31 OP17
Memory Usage Base Memory IE11 SF5.1
10 Open Tabs FF25 SF5.1
Compliance HTML5 GC31 OP17
CSS3 OP17 GC31
Performance Javascript Performance (Aggregate) GC31 OP17

Results

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place 4th Place 5th Place
Google Chrome 31 Opera 17 Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 Mozilla Firefox 25 Apple Safari 5
Google Chrome 31 Opera 17 Internet Explorer 11 Mozilla Firefox 25 Apple Safari 5

The above overall positions were derived based upon the sum of the positions that each browser finished in in each of our tests. For example, in our HTML 5 compliance test, Chrome came first and so was assigned 1 point, Safari came 5th and so was assigned 5 points. Browsers were then ranked according to the lowest number of points to give the 1st-5th places above (1st being the best)

Analysis

Google Chrome 31 Google Chrome
When we last tested the five major browsers back in November 2012, Chrome came first in 8 out of 13 our tests, making it a clear winner!
A year later, and Chrome is still going strong, coming top in 8 out of 15 tests, and second in a further two tests.
Where Chrome still doesn’t perform quite as well is when it comes to its memory usage, using well over 3 times as much memory with a single blank tab open than Internet Explorer 11.

Mozilla Firefox 25 Mozilla Firefox
We were a little surprised that Firefox only came top in 3 out of 15 tests, and only once came runner up. To Firefox’s credit, its main strength still seems to be in its memory usage. With 10 websites open in separate tabs, the amount of memory used was less than half that of Chrome with the same ten sites open.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 Internet Explorer
We were pleasantly surprised by the improvement of Internet Explorer 11 over previous versions as well as other browsers.
IE11 came top in a couple of our tests, and runner up in a further three.
Where IE11 appears to have improved most over earlier versions of Microsoft’s browser in is the length of time taken to load and pages (either from a server, or from the cache) as well as start/restart the browser itself. In our tests, starting IE11 took just 0.01463 seconds! – some 280x quicker than Opera started.
That said, in general Internet Explorer 11 still has a way to go to come up to par with the other major browsers in terms of HTML 5 compliance.

Opera 17 Opera
A lot has changed with Opera since we last tested browsers twelve months ago. Since then, Opera have switched from using their own “Presto” layout rendering engine to instead using the same engine as Chrome.
Whilst this change has been received with mixed reviews by Opera users, with some unhappy that many of Opera’s original features were dropped, our test results actually show that the “new” Opera is a browser to be reckoned with, out performing Internet Explorer 11, Firefox 25 and Safari 5 in our tests.
Opera 17 came top in 3 out of our 15 tests, and runner up in 6.
The browser also scored highly on HTML5/CSS3 compliance and in our aggregated Javascript performance tests, however, Opera’s memory usage was fairly high, second only to Chrome. Opera 17 was slow to start, however, once running it loaded and rendered web pages swiftly.

Apple Safari 5.1 Safari
Our browsers tests were performed on a Windows machine (test specifics are included at the end of this report). Whilst the latest version of Safari is 7, Apple took the decision after the release of Safari 5.1 to no longer continue developing Safari for Windows users – a mistake in our view! Therefore, the most recent version of Safari available to Windows users is 5.1.7, which was used in our testing.
Given that Safari 5.1.7 is now the oldest of the 5 browsers tested, it follows that is doesn’t perform as well as its peers.
However, surprisingly, it did come runner up in both our memory tests as well as our non-cold start test.

Conclusions – From a Developers Perspective

From our perspective, as developers of a leading web-based room booking and resource scheduling solution, perhaps the most important factors in determining which browser is “best” are compliance with the latest HTML5 and CSS3 standards. As we work hard to ensure our software works well in all the major browsers, this is where having universal standards between browsers becomes so important. In theory, a website (or in our case, a web app), should look and behave the same regardless of the browser being used, which should in theory happen if all browsers complied 100% with standards! Chrome 31 currently comes the closest to the HTML 5 standard with 93% compliance, but as can be seen, CSS3 compliance still has a long way to go for all browsers, with the winning browser in the CSS3 compliance test (Opera 17) only achieving 58% compliance.

Speed (page load time) and Javascript Performance are also important factors for us, as we want our web app to be as fast and responsive as possible. Opera 17 and Chrome 25 loaded pages faster in our tests, with Internet Explorer 11 following close behind. As for performance, both Chrome 25 and Opera 17 outperformed other browsers in our aggregated Javascript performance test scores.

A few surprising finds:

  • Microsoft have made some significant steps forward with Internet Explorer 11 over earlier incarnations of their browser.
  • Opera 17 performed better than expected
  • Firefox 25 performed worse than expected, finishing an overall 4th place in our tests.
Online Web Based Room Scheduling MIDAS, our popular Browser-Based Room & Resource Scheduling Software is currently supported in all browser versions we’ve tested here. Find out more at https://mid.as

Conclusions – So which browser should I use then!?

• If you work with lots of browser tabs open at once, and/or the amount of available memory on your system is limited, Firefox 25 would seem a good choice of browser to use, as this used the less memory than other browsers under the same conditions.

• If you regularly open and close your browser, Internet Explorer 11 or Firefox 25 would seem a good choice as these browsers start up quickly. If, however, you tend to keep your browser running most of the time, Opera 17 would be a better choice, as even though its start-up time is considerably longer, initial page load times are the quickest of all the browsers we tested

• If you’re still using an earlier version of Internet Explorer – it’s certainly worth upgrading to IE11, or if that’s not possible (for example, if you’re using Windows XP, you won’t be able to update your Internet Explorer past version 8!), maybe it’s time to try a different browser!?

• At the end of the day, use the browser that you feel most comfortable with! …BUT make sure you keep it up-to-date, and don’t ignore the competition – if you do, you risk being left behind as other browsers overtake yours in terms of their speed, security, memory usage, standard compliance, and performance!

• In recent years, browsers such as Internet Explorer and Opera have been somewhat overlooked by many regular internet users – but if you’ve not used these browsers for years having previously dismissed them – a lot has changed, and it’s certainly worth giving them a second look again now!

View/Download The Complete Web Browser Test Report HERE

Test Specifics

Browsers Tested: Chrome 31.0.1650.48 m | Firefox 25.0 | Internet Explorer 11.0.9600.16428 | Opera 17 (Build 1652) | Safari 5.1.7 (7534.57.2)

Browser tests were performed on an Intel® Atom™ CPU D525 @ 1.80GHz system, with 4GB Ram, running Windows Home Server 2011 SP1 (Windows Server 2008 R2) 64-bit. Each browser was a clean install, using default install and browsers settings, and with no extensions/addons installed or enabled.

Speed tests were measured using Rob Keir’s millisecond timer and PassMark AppTimer v1.0. Each speed test was performed 10 times for each browser, and the results averaged to provide the data presented in this report.

Compliance Tests: HTML5 | CSS3

Javascript Performance Tests: Dromaeo | Speed-Battle | Sunspider | Peacekeeper | Octane | BrowserMark

Memory usage was measured 60 seconds after tabs had finished loading and was measured through the Windows Task Manager. Memory usage includes all associated processes running with the browser (for example, running Safari spawns both “Safari.exe” and “WebKit2WebProcess.exe” processes, the memory usage of both is taken into account)

The 10 sites open in tabs when measuring memory usage (10 open tabs) were:
//mid.as | http://news.bbc.co.uk | http://facebook.com | http://twitter.com | http://google.co.uk | http://youtube.com | http://wikipedia.org | http://linkedin.com | http://bing.com | http://amazon.co.uk

Test Date: 13 November 2013

Web Browser Roundup – April 2013

It’s been a busy few weeks in the world of web browsers… and there’s been some major changes in the browser landscape too! So here’s our take on what’s been happening..

  • Internet Explorer – IE11 coming later this year? / IE10 available for Windows 7 / Farewell IE8
  • Firefox – v20 now available… and a new rendering engine on the horizon?
  • Chrome – v26 out now… and ANOTHER new rendering engine on the horizon?!
  • Opera – 12.15 now available… and a change in rendering engine to.. WebKit? no wait.. Blink?
  • Safari – What will all these rendering engine changes to other browsers mean for Safari?


Internet Explorer:
Internet Explorer 11 coming soon
Microsoft are busy working on their next update for Windows 8, currently billed as being “Windows 8.1”, and expected to be available in the latter half of this year. Windows 8.1 will almost be a kind of “service pack” for Windows 8, but will also contain a number of improvements and updates to apps & software. Perhaps the most exciting updating coming with Windows 8.1 will be Internet Explorer 11. Yes, that’s right, no sooner is IE10 out of the door, but Microsoft are following it up with IE11 in a relatively short space of time (well, for them anyway!). We think this is great to see from Microsoft, as in the past updates to their flagship browser have been few and far between. Compare that with Mozilla’s current release cycle for Firefox, who are churning out a new version of Firefox every 6 weeks!

MIDAS will be supported in IE11 when it becomes available, however, it is unknown whether IE11 itself will be “exclusive” to Windows 8.1, or whether, like IE10, it will also be made available for Windows 7 users as well.

…and yes, you did read that right – Internet Explorer 10 is available for Windows 7 right now! (and has been for over a month). If you’re a Windows 7 and Internet Explorer user, we strongly recommend that you update to IE10 get the best out of MIDAS.

Finally, if you’re still an Internet Explorer 8 user please read our “Saying farewell to Internet Explorer 8” post and upgrade your browser… as we won’t be supporting MIDAS in IE8 indefinitely!

MIDAS is currently supported in Internet Explorer 8+ (v10+ recommended)


Mozilla Firefox:
Firefox 20
Mozilla’s rapid release cycle means that we’re now up to Firefox version 20! In a tweet yesterday, the Firefox team claim that with their latest version of Firefox “you can get the web up to 7 times faster than older versions”.

Mozilla also announced last week that they were collaborating with Samsung on a new rendering engine, named “Servo”. A “rendering engine” is essentially what converts raw web page code into what you actually see on your browser screen. Mozilla’s long standing rendering engine has been “Gecko”, but according to Mozilla, “Servo is a research project to develop a new web browser engine. Our goal is to create an architecture that takes advantage of parallelism at many levels, both on the CPU and GPU, while eliminating common sources of bugs and security vulnerabilities associated with incorrect memory management and data races. With Servo, we aim to take the kinds of fluid, richer multimedia experiences expected in today’s smart phone and tablet applications to the next level on tomorrow’s web and tomorrow’s hardware.”
“Servo” is still in its early days and according to Mozilla, “It’s too early to say how [Servo] will be adopted going forward. No decision has been made as to whether Servo will replace Gecko. Gecko remains the ‘productised’ web engine for Mozilla.”
So it may be that Servo ends up being a rendering engine for Mozilla’s smart phone/tablet browsers, and Gecko remains for desktop Firefox editions (which could get confusing!), or more likely in time, Mozilla will standardize their rendering engine across all platforms.

MIDAS is currently supported in Firefox 4+ (v20+ recommended)


Google Chrome:
Chrome 26
The current version of Google’s Chrome browser is v26. Ever since its first release – which was only 4 years ago! – Chrome has always used the WebKit rendering engine, which until then had most notably been used in Apple’s Safari web browser. Chrome’s subsequent input into the WebKit project has really driven WebKit development forward in the last four years, to the point that WebKit is arguably the most standards-compliant of all the rendering engines currently used by the major browsers.
However, Google recently announced that they would be developing a new rendering engine for Chrome, called “Blink”, which is expected to make it into builds of Chrome within just 10 weeks! Unlike Mozilla’s “Servo” engine, which is being built from the ground up, Blink is heavily based on the WebKit project.
Google have released a Blink Q&A video if you’re interested in learning more about this new rendering engine and its implementation

MIDAS is currently supported in Chrome 9+ (v26+ recommended)


Opera:
Opera 12.15
Opera are having a bit of a turbulent time of late, and in some respects appear to be loosing a sense of focus and direction!
Opera was first released in late 1994, making it the longest running browser that’s still in active development and current use today.
Apart from its longevity, what also makes Opera unique is their own “Presto” rendering engine.
Now, you may remember that back in January, we reported that Opera were making a switch from Presto to WebKit at least for their mobile browser offerings. Then in February, it was confirmed that Opera would drop Presto for their entire range on browsers (not just mobile).
This was a move that surprised a lot of analysts, and received a mixed response from Opera’s loyal user base.
Whilst it would have been sad to see a very mature rendering engine being put out to pasture, it would have meant that with Google and Opera both contributing to WebKit (along with Safari), it would not only provide more continuity between browsing experiences on the three browsers, but also with three major organizations contributing to the development of WebKit, it would have become very powerful and certainly have Mozilla and Internet Explorer (who don’t use WebKit) quaking in their boots!
…but this was before Google announced Blink… and shortly afterwards, Opera changed their minds and decided to also jump on the Blink band-wagon, after having gone all out and confirming they were moving to WebKit!!
So it’s a little confusing at the moment as to the direction that Opera are going to be going down! ..but as things stand at the moment, here are the list of rendering engines that the five major browsers are using/will be using in the near future:

Browser Current Rending Engine Future Rendering Engine
Trident Rendering Engine Internet Explorer Trident Trident
Gecko Rendering Engine Mozilla Firefox Gecko Servo?
Blink Rendering Engine Google Chrome WebKit Blink
Presto Rendering Engine Opera Presto Blink?
WebKit Rendering Engine Apple Safari WebKit WebKit

MIDAS is currently supported in Opera 9+ (v12+ recommended)


Safari:
Safari - The Future of WebKit
As you’ll know from our previous Web Browser Roundups – it’s been pretty quiet on the Safari development front in recent months, with not much happening!
Safari’s rendering engine is WebKit, and last month it looked like both Google and Opera would begin contributing code to the WebKit project (in fact, Opera even began contributing code to WebKit). This was before Google announced it was moving away from WebKit in favor of a new rendering engine, Blink, and then Opera followed suit and announced it was also teaming up with Google for the new Blink rendering engine.
So what will this mean for WebKit and the browser that will soon be the sole user and primary contributor to the WebKit project, Safari? Well, it remains to be seen! WebKit was successfully developed without Google’s input in the days before Chrome, so it may well survive without Google’s input in the future, but with Google and Opera pooling resources into Blink, and Firefox potentially introducing a new rendering engine too, the WebKit team (and Safari) are going to be facing a tough challenge to keep up!

MIDAS is currently supported in Safari 4+ (v5+ recommended)

Web Browser Roundup – February 2013

Here’s our take on all the latest web browser news for February…

  • Internet Explorer – Speculation continues over the IE10 release date for Windows 7
  • Chrome – The most actively developed browser?
  • Firefox – 18.0.2 now available.. development slowing down?
  • Safari – Are it’s days numbered?
  • Opera – 300 million active users and a full move to WebKit confirmed!


Internet Explorer:
Internet Explorer 10 - The Browser You Loved To Hate
At the very end of last month, Microsoft released an IE10 Update Blocker Toolkit, leading to speculation that IE10 for Windows 7 users may be just around the corner!

There was some speculation that IE10 may have been pushed through Windows Update on 12th February to coincide with Microsoft’s monthly “Patch Tuesday”, when they were already planning on releasing some “critical updates” to Internet Explorer.

Whilst the critical updates for IE were included in this month’s Patch Tuesday, IE10 itself wasn’t – which is not all that surprising, given that the update blocker (which prevents IE10 from being downloaded/installed via Windows Update) was only made available 13 days earlier – hardly enough time for corporate environments (for which the blocker is aimed) to deploy the blocker throughout their IT infrastructure.

It’s instead more likely that IE10 will make a proper appearance for Windows 7 users at the end of the month, or in early March, based on when previous “IE blockers” were released. (…that’s assuming of course the IE team can be dragged away from devoting their time/energy/resources to developing endless web-based games, such as Contre Jour, to showcase how “great” Internet Explorer is, and focus instead on developing their actual web browser!)

Anyway, you can read more about our predictions for when IE10 will likely be fully available in our blog post, “…and the final release date for Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7 is…

MIDAS is currently supported in Internet Explorer 8+ (v10+ recommended)


Google Chrome:
Chrome 24
Chrome continues to receive regular updates – in fact the Stable channel was updated only yesterday for Linux users to fix *another* Flash vulnerability!

These frequently discovered Flash vulnerabilities are not confined to Chrome – they can affect any browser on a computer with Flash installed. This is also why Microsoft pushed a couple of “critical updates” to Internet Explorer yesterday.

In our opinion, the sooner Flash is killed off the better! For today’s modern web browser, it serves no real purpose! Everything that Flash can do can these days be accomplished through a use of HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript.

You won’t find any Flash on our website, or within our scheduling web app

Anyway, back to Chrome – so far this month, there have be no fewer than 3 updates to the “Stable” channel (if you’re a normal Chrome user, you automatically receive updates from the “Stable” channel), 2 updates to the Chrome Beta for Android, 2 updates to the “Dev” channel, 1 update to the “Beta” channel… and we’re only half way through the month!

Google Chrome is arguably the most “actively” developed web browser at the present time.

MIDAS is currently supported in Chrome 9+ (v24+ recommended)


Mozilla Firefox:
Firefox 18
At the start of the month, Mozilla, released Firefox 18.0.2.

Primarily a security & stability update, 18.0.2 does have a handful of new features/improvements, most notably:

  • Faster JavaScript performance
  • Better image quality when scaling
  • Improved browser start-up time (Chrome already has the fastest start-up times out of all the major browsers we tested a couple of months back to determine “Which Browser is Best?“)
  • Support for Retina Display on OS X 10.7 and up

In recent times, Mozilla have been releasing a “major” update to Firefox every six weeks or so, however, we wonder if this release cycle may now start to slow down whilst the Mozilla team focus more of their attention on their upcoming “Firefox OS” project.

MIDAS is currently supported in Firefox 4+ (v18+ recommended)


Safari:
Safari 5
Sadly, once again, there’s no new Safari news to report! As you’ll know from our November update, Safari development has taken back seat over at Apple in recent times, with Apple seemingly more focused on their hardware offerings, than on their web browser. As we reported at the end of last year, they’ve currently ceased development on the Windows version of Safari.

And with other browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox available (or soon to become available) for iPad and iOS users, you do have to wonder whether Safari’s days are numbered, and it won’t be long before Apple take the decision to cease its development completely?!

MIDAS is currently supported in Safari 4+ (v5+ recommended)


Opera:
Opera 12.14
Last month we reported that Opera were dropping their own rendering engine, “Presto” in favor of “WebKit” (a rendering engine already used by the likes of Safari and Chrome) for a new mobile browser “Ice”.

At the time, there’s was no word as to whether this move would mean that “Presto” was to also be ultimately phased out of their desktop browser offering as well.

Well, now this has been confirmed in an official Opera Press Release. The primary reason for the press release was to mark the fact that Opera now has an impressive 300 million monthly users across its various browser products, but the CTO of Opera Software, Håkon Wium Lie, also writes:

“The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need. It makes more sense to have our experts working with the open source communities to further improve WebKit and Chromium, rather than developing our own rendering engine [Presto] further.”

No timescale has been given for this transition, but it’s likely to be a gradual progression over to WebKit rather than a sudden overnight switch.

Whilst in some respects it will be sad to see the “Presto” engine go (as the more different browser rendering engines there are, the more competition there is to be the “best” and most up-to-date standards compliant browser), in many other respects, this could actually be a very good move!

WebKit is actively in development by both Apple and Google, and is what powers their respective browsers. Add to this mix the extensive development expertise that the Opera team have (and we do mean extensive – Opera has been in constant development since 1994!), and it will likely have Firefox (which uses it’s own “Gecko” engine), and Internet Explorer (which uses it’s own “Trident” engine) pretty worried!

Because Chrome, Safari, and soon Opera too, will use the same rendering engine, in theory web pages (and apps) should look identical in which ever of these browsers you use – which should make like a little easier for web developers! (In practice this isn’t quite true, as each browser has a different release cycle, so new features in the WebKit engine itself make it into one browser weeks, if not months, before another).

MIDAS is currently supported in Opera 9+ (v12+ recommended)

Web Browser Roundup – January 2013

Well, it’s a new year, so here’s what’s been happening in the world of the web browser since our last update…

  • Internet Explorer – Microsoft’s self-proclaimed comeback – has IE really “grown up”?
  • Chrome – v24 out now, v25 around the corner – with voice control!?
  • Firefox – 64-bit development fiasco, but “Junior” for iPad and Firefox OS on their way!
  • Safari – It’s oh so quiet! Shhhh…
  • Opera – Continuing to improve stability and security… plus a new Android and iOS browser coming, and a possible move to WebKit?


Internet Explorer:
Internet Explorer 10 - The Browser You Loved To Hate
At the tail end of 2012, Microsoft released a video on YouTube touting the comeback of its Internet Explorer browser by focusing on how people “love to hate it”. In the video, an individual is depicted trolling news stories, videos and Twitter accounts about how much Microsoft’s browser “sucks”.

The video ends by the troll typing “IE sucks… less,” after which Microsoft proclaims “progress” is being made and that “comebacks come in many shapes and sizes.”

Following that, the video mentions Microsoft’s new website to promote the campaign, TheBrowserYouLovedToHate.com.

Now, Microsoft’s IE “comeback” campaign is gathering more pace. By specifically targeting those who grew up in the 1990’s, and using the Twitter hashtag “#childofthe90s”, Microsoft are flooding the social network with a host of photographs of 90’s children’s toys with the tag line “You grew up. So did we. Reconnect with the new IE”

It’s all well and good Microsoft promoting that IE has made a “comeback”… but has IE really grown up?

Their latest incarnation is Internet Explorer 10 (available for Windows 8, and currently as a IE 10 “Preview” for Windows 7). Back in November, we put IE10 “head-to-head” with the other current browser offerings from Mozilla, Google, Apple, and Opera software. You can read our full test report and conclusions here, and you’ll see that IE10 performance was rather disappointing!

So has Internet Explorer “grown up”? Well, in comparison to earlier versions of IE – yes, but when in comparison to the latest offerings from the other majors browser vendors, Internet Explorer still has a LOT of growing up to do!

For us to be convinced that their flagship browser has truly “made a comeback”, Microsoft’s will need to ensure that they now maintain and update IE on a more frequent basis, as all the other major browsers do! …otherwise this self-proclaimed “comeback” will be short lived!

Months, or in IE’s case – years – between major browser updates really doesn’t cut it in the highly competitive – and ever evolving – browser market we’re in today!

MIDAS is currently supported in Internet Explorer 8+ (v10+ recommended)


Google Chrome:
Chrome - Talk to me!
Earlier this month, Google pushed an update to their Chrome browser, bringing the version number up to 24. Google’s main claim with this new version is that performance has improved “26.3% since Chrome 15”.

Now, Chrome 15 may seem like seem it was a long time ago, but in actual fact it was less than a year ago that Chrome 15 was the “latest” offering of Chrome!

If you’re a regular follower of our blog, you’ll know there’s been a whole version number supremacy battle going on between browser vendors in recent times! In a blog post, Google justify their “rapid release schedule” and lack of noticeable “new features” in Chrome 24 by saying “What you may not know is that things are changing under the hood every six weeks, thanks to auto-update. It’s like a mechanic stopping by every six weeks to give your car a new engine”

So whilst v24 may have lacked in the way of “new features”, v25 – which is just around the corner – promises to have support for the new and emerging “Web Speech API”. This will ultimately allow websites, and web apps – such as our own Room Scheduling System – to be voice controlled! …which is quite exciting, and ever so slightly reminiscent of this scene from StarTrek IV…

Scotty - Hello Computer

In other Chrome news – if you’ve got an Android smart phone, did you know that you can get the Google Chrome browser for your mobile device?! …well, only if your device runs Android 4.0+… which is a shame, given that mobile versions of both Opera and Firefox are currently available for earlier Android devices.

MIDAS is currently supported in Chrome 9+ (v24+ recommended)


Mozilla Firefox:
Firefox 16

Mozilla seem to be loosing a bit of direction of late! Back in November, we reported on a number of setbacks for Firefox. Including a major update that was subsequently withdrawn, a large fine imposed by the EU, and a drop in market share.

Well, since then, there’s been more controversy! Mozilla announced that they would no longer be developing a 64-bit Windows version of Firefox.

Mozilla Engineering Manager Benjamin Smedberg made the decision to kill off development. He outlined his view on the matter in a post titled “Turn off win64 builds” on a Google Groups development board. Smedberg blames the decision partly due to 3rd party plugins, commenting “Many plugins are not available in 64-bit versions.”

However, following a backlash by users, his decision was subsequently reversed.

In a later post on the Mozilla Google Groups support page, Smedberg admitted that “there was significant negative feedback” on the move to cancel 64-bit development of Firefox. After his change of heart, he then claimed “I believe that we can keep a set of users happy by making a modification to the original plan” This plan essentially involved moving all those users of 64-bit builds of Firefox back to the 32-bit channel, and then having those users manually download a new 64-bit build.

Aside from the 64-bit Firefox fiasco, Mozilla have recently announced a number of other projects they have in the pipeline – namely, a new web browser “built from the ground up” for the iPad, called “Junior” (expected in the first half of 2013). Interestingly, Junior will use WebKit layout rendering (also used by Chrome & Safari), rather than Mozilla’s own “Gecko” rendering.

Plus, Mozilla have been working on their own mobile operating system, “Firefox OS”, with developer preview phones now available! Will Firefox OS have any impact on the mobile os market? With iOS, Android, and Windows Phone being the key players, Firefox OS will have a hard job taking a significant market share! Many mobile phone providers have tried to launch their own proprietary operating systems before and failed.. so it remains to be see exactly what impact Firefox OS has!

MIDAS is currently supported in Firefox 4+ (v18+ recommended)


Safari:
Safari 5
Sadly, there’s just no new Safari news to report this time! As you’ll know from our last update, Safari development seems to have take a back seat at Apple in recent times, with Apple seemingly more focused on their hardware offerings, than on their web browser. In fact, as we reported, they’ve currently ceased development on the Windows version of Safari – perhaps because they feel they can no longer compete with the likes of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome and prefer to stick with an operating system where Safari has had the monopoly.

However, with a version of Firefox soon to become available to iPad users, Safari’s dominance on iOS may soon be in jeopardy, which actually might be a good thing, as it may drive Apple to further develop Safari!

MIDAS is currently supported in Safari 4+ (v5+ recommended)


Opera:
Opera 12.13
Whilst the other major browser vendors had a bit of a break over Christmas, it seems like development over at Opera continued at a pace! Since we last reported on Opera, version 12.11 was released in late November, 12.12 released just a few days before Christmas, and now 12.13 looks set for imminent release in the next couple of days.

There’s nothing major to report on these releases – they primarily just contain “stability and security improvements”, but it’s good that Opera are commitment to the continued improvement of their desktop browser even during the festive period.

But it doesn’t end there – Opera are pushing forward with their various other browser offerings – their latest project, “Ice”, will see a minimalist browser being introduced for both Android and iOS devices.

According to Opera’s CEO, “Ice” is “a reboot of your average web browser, it has no buttons, no menus, and all you see is content … Everything is gesture based and that’s what Opera is all about.”

What’s interesting is that Opera will drop their own “Presto” layout rendering engine, and instead use WebKit rendering for “Ice”. There’s no word yet whether this move will ultimately mean that “Presto” is also phased out of their desktop browser as well.

In many respects, this would be a good move from our point of view, as a developer, as it would simplify development somewhat!

We always ensure that our browser based scheduling solution runs smoothly in the 5 major browsers. This means we have to make sure that MIDAS looks as close to identical as possible regardless of which browser you use. At present, different browsers use different “rendering” (or “layout”) engines. This is how a browser interprets the code that goes to make up a web page (or web app) and subsequently displays (“renders”) it to your screen.

At present there are 4 main browser layout/rendering engines:

  • “Trident” – Used by Internet Explorer
  • “Gecko” – Used by Firefox
  • “WebKit” – Used by Chrome and Safari
  • “Presto” – Used by Opera

    Because both Chrome and Safari use the same rendering engine, in theory web pages (and apps) should look identical in both browser. (In practice this isn’t quite true, as each browser is updated on a different release cycle, therefore new features of the WebKit engine make it into Chrome sooner than Safari for example). But if Opera also make the switch to WebKit at some point, then in theory, sites/apps should look identical in Chrome, Safari AND Opera.

    MIDAS is currently supported in Opera 9+ (v12+ recommended)


    MIDAS Discount As a New Year is an ideal time to make a fresh start with your room bookings, to celebrate the start 2013 we’re offering 13% off new purchases of our web based software throughout January! – simply use Promo Code “NEWYEAR13” on our website when making your purchase.