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There’s plenty going on in the world of web browsers at the moment. Our web based scheduling software, MIDAS relies on a web browser. So we take a keen interest in the ever-changing browser landscape. Here’s our round up of what’s been happening recently with the 5 major browsers:

  • Internet Explorer – Google Apps dropping IE8 support.. and still no word IE10 for Win7?
  • Chrome – More popular than IE? Depends on who you talk to!
  • Firefox – 10 years old.. and Windows 8 “modern” app round the corner
  • Safari – No further updates for Windows users?
  • Opera – Development continuing at pace!

Internet Explorer:
Internet Explorer - Google Apps dropping IE8 support.. and still no word IE10 for Win7?Google have announced that starting from November 15, their suite of “Google Apps”, which includes services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, will no longer be officially supported Internet Explorer 8. We predict that it won’t be long before other major sites begin to drop support for IE8.

Internet Explorer 8 is now nearly 4 years old – a long time in today’s fast changing browser landscape. Consequently, it now offers poor support for today’s web technology standards. So why are people still using it then? Well, one of the main problems is that if you’re still running Windows XP (which many people still are!), you can’t install Internet Explorer 9 on it! This is a bad decision on Microsoft’s part we feel. In fact they’ve pretty much shot themselves in the foot by not allowing Windows XP users to upgrade their browser past IE8! By not allowing Windows XP users to upgrade past IE8, it’s allowed other browsers (such as Firefox and Chrome) – which can run on Windows XP, to steal a lot of the market share that Internet Explorer has. This is simply because end-users want to use a fast, up-to-date, modern browser – something which IE8 isn’t by today’s standards.

Sadly, at the moment, this could be a trend that Microsoft continues with their upcoming Internet Explorer 10. Internet Explorer is currently only available to users of Windows 8. Windows 8 sees its full release later this month on October 26. Users of Windows 7 are presently unable to update from Internet Explorer 9 to Internet Explorer 10. Microsoft have said that IE10 will become available for Windows 7. Yet they’ve been very vague and noncommittal about exactly when this will happen.

If you’ve used IE10, you’ll know how much better it is than IE9. Not least in terms of speed/performance, but also compliance with the latest web standards. We hope Microsoft make IE10 available to users of Windows 7 as soon as possible!

MIDAS, our web based scheduling software, is currently supported in Internet Explorer 8,9, and 10! However, for the best experience, we recommend IE9/10. We have no immediate plans to drop support for IE8, as Google Apps are doing. However, there will come a time when we no longer support such an old version of a web browser. Therefore, you should always keep your browser up-to-date with the most recent version available to you. If you’re still using Windows XP, and have no plans to upgrade to Windows 7/8 in the near future, you may wish to consider installing one of the other modern browsers that will work on your system.

Google Chrome:
Chrome - More popular than IE? Depends who you talk to!Still somewhat on the subject of Internet Explorer – opinion continues to be divided as to which browser – Internet Explorer or Google Chrome is currently the most widely used browser in the world. It all depends on who you talk to!

Last months figures from one leading company, Net Applications, show that IE 8 is the most popular web browser for PC’s, with 24.09% of the market share, followed by IE 9 with 19.45%. Chrome 21 (which was updated to Chrome 22 last week), has a 14.32% shared of the web browser market.

Net Applications - Browser Market Share - Sept 12
Source: Net Applications

However, StatCounter, another leading company, have very different numbers for September. They show Chrome 21 in a clear lead with 27.34%. IE9 comes second with 17.93%, followed by IE8 at 13.06%.

StatCounter - Browser Market Share - Sept 12
Source: StatCounter

Why such a difference between the two sets of statistics? Well, both companies use very different ways for assessing browser usage. Net Applications only counts “unique visitors”. StatCounter however counts browser hits, regardless of whether they are unique. For example, if someone views the same page 10 times, Net Applications would count that once, StatCounter would count that ten times.

It’s also worth noting that the Google Chrome browser has a “pre-fetch” function. This can silently fetch web pages in the background that it thinks you’re going to visit – so this has the potential for skewing the data slightly.

That said, if there is one thing that both Stat Counter and Net Applications are in close agreement on, its Mozilla’s Firefox place in the web browser standings. Firefox 15 comes 4th on both lists. Net Applications shows a market share of 10.91% and StatCounter fractionally more at 13.01%.

MIDAS is supported in Chrome 9+ (v22+ recommended)

Mozilla Firefox:
Firefox - 10 years old.. and Windows 8 'metro' app round the cornerFirefox celebrated it 10th birthday a couple of weeks ago! Firefox has come a long way in its 10 year history, although it wasn’t actually called “Firefox” until 2004. Originally, it was called “Phoenix” in 2002. Several months later, after complaints from BIOS manufacturer Phoenix Technologies, that name was dropped in favor of Firebird. The community didn’t like “Firebird” either as there was – and still – a database server carrying the same name. Instead, the name “Firefox” was adopted in early 2004.

Firefox became quite popular thanks to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6, which didn’t receive significant updates for many years. Firefox however introduced a lot of people to tabs, RSS-feeds in the bookmarks bar, themes and extensions. In February 2008, Firefox had been downloaded 500 million times. It established a record with version 3.0 several months later, with the “Most Downloads of a Software Application in 24 Hours,” according to Guinness World Records.

Today, Mozilla are busy on developing a special Windows 8 “modern” version of their popular browser in time for the launch of Windows 8 later this month.

MIDAS is supported in Firefox 4+ (v16+ recommended)

Safari:
Safari 6 - Not for Windows users?Apple’s Safari browser was recently updated to version 6. However, if you’re a Windows user, Safari 6 isn’t available to you. Safari 6 has only been made available to iOS users. The most recent version of Safari available to Windows users if 5.1.7. Yet even this has now been quietly removed from the Safari download page. (at time of writing 5.1.7 is still available to Windows users with an earlier version of Safari already installed via their “Apple Software Update” application). No reason has been given by Apple as to why Safari 6 hasn’t been made available to Windows users. The speculation is that the move was made because Safari 6 is more tightly integrated with features only found in iOS6. We hope that this is only temporary, and Apple will make Safari 6 available to Windows. However, as Safari has the smallest market share of Windows-based browsers, they may now just be focusing on their own operating systems.

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

Opera:
Opera - Development continuing at pace!The Opera name has been with the browser since the very beginning. In fact, Opera v1 was first released back in 1994. Often overlooked, this well established browser has retained a small, but loyal following over the years. Although historically not enjoying the same user growth as other browsers have, for the last year or so, development work on Opera has really gathered pace! Opera software have been regularly putting out developer snapshots and beta builds – sometimes several times a week! All this work culminated with the major release of Opera 12 back in June. We’ve been quite impressed with Opera 12’s speed and compatibility with the latest web technologies and standards. Plus the work the Opera team are putting into their software shows no signs of slowing down any time soon! Opera 12.10 was released as a beta last week, so expect a public update to Opera very soon.

There were also rumors earlier in the year that Facebook may be gearing up to purchase Opera in the not too distant future. Whilst unsubstantiated, if true, Opera’s market share may see a significant increase as a result of an acquisition of Facebook. So if Opera’s slipped under your radar, or you’ve perhaps dismissed it in the past – maybe it’s worth taking another look!?

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

Well, it’s been a busy few days in the web browser world! We’ll try and summarize what’s been happening for you!

Internet Explorer:
Internet Explorer 10On Thursday, Microsoft released Windows 8 Release Preview with an update to their Internet Explorer 10 browser that will ship when this new operating system is fully released later this year. Sadly, IE10 isn’t currently available for Windows 7 – we very much hope it will be before too long, as IE10 sees some quit significant leaps forward for Microsoft’s browser!

Mozilla Firefox:
Firefox 13The latest version of Firefox – version 13 – is now available to download from Mozilla (even though it’s not “officially” released until tomorrow!). Notable changes in this version, according to Mozilla, relate to the “Home” and “Tabs” pages. The “home” page can now be customized with bookmarks, history, sync, and previous session data. The “new tabs” page has also seen a feature introduce that has been knocking around in Chrome and Opera for a while – thumbnails of recently/commonly viewed pages

Google Chrome:
Chrome more popular than IEStatcounter also reported recently that Google Chrome has now overtaken Internet Explorer in terms of market share. According to StatCounter, Chrome now accounts for 32.76% of the worldwide market, compared to 31.94% for Internet Explorer and 25.47% for Firefox. This is the first time that a browser other than Internet Explorer has commanded the largest share of the browser market – even if Chrome’s lead is only 0.82%. Still, this is quite an achievement for a relatively new browser, which was first launched less than 4 years ago!

Opera:
Opera 12It’s also been rumored this past week that Facebook may be gearing up to buy the Opera browser!
That’s the report from Pocket-Lint.com, which claims via unnamed sources that Facebook is looking to purchase Opera Software, the makers of the long-running Opera web browser. Details are sketchy, but the story claims that Facebook is looking to compete in the web browser war that already has Microsoft, Google, Apple and Mozilla among its big players.

The Opera web browser has historically always had the smallest market share of any of the 5 major desktop browsers. That said, Opera has gained some ground most notably in the mobile web browser market. Facebook is currently very focused on the “mobile” side of their operations, with an increasing number of users regularly using Facebook on their mobile devices. So, Facebook could be about to purchase Opera Software as a shortcut towards making a browser that could compete in the smartphone and tablet space.

The Facebook purchase could actually be very good for the Opera browser as it has the potential to become much more of a “threat” to the other 4 browsers – something which will likely see increased development, competitions, and a race to strive to produce the fastest, most “standards compliant” browser!

We’ve been closely monitoring Opera developments in recent months – Opera Software are about to release Opera 12, and we’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen so far from the nightly developer “snapshots” – it’s a substantial improvement on Opera 11 – it’s faster, and far more standard-compliant

Our browser-based software, MIDAS, is fully supported on Internet Explorer (including on IE10 in Windows 8), Firefox (including v13), Opera (including v12), as well as the current versions of Safari and Chrome

…and there’s still time to take advantage of our very special Diamond Jubilee discount!

Internet Explorer 7 to retire In 2011, we reported that many well known sites like Google, YouTube, Hotmail, WordPress, had taken the decision to drop support for the Microsoft’s decade old browser, Internet Explorer 6.

We also dropped IE6 support for our own web app MIDAS in 2010.

But now it looks like major sites are starting to phase out support for Internet Explorer 7 too! …starting this week with Facebook.

Now, if you’re an avid Facebook user, you’ll probably have noticed their new “Timeline” feature. That is, unless you’re using Internet Explorer 7! While other and more recent web browser can now access and use Facebook’s Timeline profile feature, IE7 users are prevented from seeing or using this by Facebook! Instead, IE7 users can only see the old-style profile pages.

It’s likely, therefore, that in the near future, Facebook may drop support for IE7 entirely. You can be sure that other websites will be following suit during the course of 2012.

We here at MIDAS HQ think this will be a good thing!

Since IE7 was released, there have been two major updates (IE8 and IE9). With Internet Explorer 10 being available around the time that the Windows 8 operating system will be launched, we always encourage our users to use the most recent version of their favorite browser available to them. Keeping your browser up-to-date is essential to ensure that you’re protected from the latest security vulnerabilities and so that you can view websites (and web apps, such as MIDAS) as the developer intended! Many modern browser keep themselves up-to-date with minimal user intervention required, and we were encouraged to learn earlier this month that in 2012 Internet Explorer will also begin automatically updating itself!

Although we strongly encourage our users to use IE9, at time of writing, we continue to provide support for MIDAS running under IE7. However, as global IE7 users currently make up just 4% of PC web browser users, according to StatCounter, a number that is ever declining – we are likely to phase out support for MIDAS running in IE7 too before too long!

So if you’re still stuck on Internet Explorer 7… isn’t it about time you updated your browser!?