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IE10 now available for Windows 7Last month, we predicted that Internet Explorer 10 would become fully available for Windows 7 users towards the end of February.

Today, Microsoft have announced that Internet Explorer 10 is now out of “Preview” and fully available for Windows 7.

According to Microsoft, when compared to IE9, IE10 is “20% faster for real world Web sites” and has a “60% increase in supported modern Web standards

If you’re a MIDAS user who uses Internet Explorer, please update your browser to IE10. This will ensure that you have the best possible experience when using our web-based room booking system.

If you’ve already been using the “Release Preview” of IE 10, simply visit windows.microsoft.com/ie in your IE10 “Release Preview”, and you’ll be prompted to update.

To download IE10 in other languages, go to http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/internet-explorer/downloads/ie-10/worldwide-languages

IE10 Release To Manufacturing (RTM)
Internet Explorer 10 “RTM”

Internet Explorer 10 should be rolled out to Windows 7 users via Windows Update over the coming weeks. We’ve noticed however that the “About” box of today’s IE10 release (pictured above) contains letters “RTM” next to the “Update Versions”. “RTM” stands for “Release To Manufacturing”. This is a term used for software that’s made available to computer builders/manufactures before it’s actually fully released to the public.

Take Windows operating systems for example; “Windows 7 RTM” was made available to manufacturers months before Windows 7 actually became available to consumers. This was to allow manufacturers to have devices ready for the day of the actual launch of Windows 7. “RTM” editions of Microsoft software are generally not available directly to the wider public, which makes today’s IE10 release rather unusual! It also makes it unlikely that IE 10.0.9200.16521 (Today’s build) will be the same build that ends up being delivered through Windows Update.

…but perhaps the presence of “RTM” in the About dialog is just a small oversight on Microsoft’s part. After all, it does still state “© 2012” on the dialog after all, despite it being 2013!

UPDATE: IE10 is now available for Windows 7 through Windows Update. However, although it’s classed as an “Important” update, it is not selected by default! So if you have your Windows Update settings to “Install Important Updates Automatically”, this won’t currently also install IE10. You will instead need to manually check for updates, and “tick” the box next to the “Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7” update in order to install

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 its 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. This led to speculation that IE10 for Windows 7 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. This isn’t entirely surprising, given that the update blocker (which prevents IE10 from being downloaded/installed via Windows Update) was only made available 13 days earlier. 13 days is 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. This is 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. Instead, we think they really should 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 been no fewer than 3 updates to the “Stable” channel. If you’re a normal Chrome user, you’ll automatically receive updates from the “Stable” channel. Two updates were made to the Chrome Beta for Android, two to the “Dev” channel, and one update to the “Beta” channel… and we’re only halfway 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. Apple instead have been 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 (and soon to become available) for iPad and iOS users, you do have to wonder whether Safari’s days are numbered? Will it be long before Apple take the decision to cease Safari 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” for a new mobile browser “Ice”. WebKit is the rendering engine already used by the likes of Safari and Chrome.

At the time, there 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. In the release 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. It’s likely though to be a gradual progression over to WebKit rather than a sudden overnight switch.

In some respects it will be sad to see the “Presto” engine go. 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. But 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. We do mean extensive too! Opera has been in constant development since 1994!). It will likely have Firefox (which uses its own “Gecko” engine), and Internet Explorer (which uses its 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. This should make life 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)

Internet Explorer 10 Release DateBack in November last year, we announced the availability of a “preview” version of Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 users. Users of Windows 8 already have the full IE10 browser!

Why was Internet Explorer 10 not made available to Windows 7 at the same time as Windows 8? Could it be that Microsoft intentionally delayed the release in order to encourage/boost sales of Windows 8? Whatever the reasons, it’s finally looking like IE10 is about to be officially rolled out to Windows 7 through Windows Update!

Whilst Microsoft remain tight-lipped over the precise release date, there are a number of indicators that point to a release this month.

The strongest indicator follows an announcement on Microsoft’s official IE blog yesterday that the “IE10 Automatic Update Blocker Toolkit” is now available to download.

What’s the “IE10 Automatic Update Blocker Toolkit” we hear you ask?!

Basically it’s a small application that can be run to prevent IE10 being delivered to your computer through Windows Update when it becomes available.

Why would you want to do that?

Well, most people wouldn’t – that is unless you’re a large organization/company who’s IT department isn’t ready/doesn’t want to update to IE10 just yet. The reason is usually because they’re worried about compatibility issues with web based business applications deployed within their organization.

With our web-based room scheduling software, MIDAS, there are no such worries – MIDAS runs great in Internet Explorer 10!

So if your organization uses MIDAS, we’d encourage you to deploy IE10 as soon as it becomes available!

What light then does the release of this update blocker shed on a potential release date for IE10?

Well, Microsoft have previously released update blockers just prior to the release of IE9, 8, etc

For example:

  • IE7 was released on Wednesday 18th October 2006 (the IE8 blocker was released 84 days earlier in July 2006)
  • IE8 was released on Thursday 19th March 2009 (the IE8 blocker was released 73 days earlier in January 2009)
  • IE9 was released on Monday 14th March 2011 (the IE9 blocker was released 32 days earlier in February 2011)

So the length of time between a “blocker” being made available and the actual browser release has decreased for each major incarnation of IE over the years. It’s sensible then to assume, given that the IE10 blocker was made available yesterday, that IE10 can expect to be fully released before the end of the month!

Now, the second Tuesday of each month, is affectionately known in the IT world as “Patch Tuesday”. Traditionally the day on which Microsoft regularly release a big update of security patches. “Patch Tuesday” this month will be 12th February. So could Microsoft be gearing up to release IE10 through Windows Update on the same day?! …is 13 days a long enough time period to allow all those IT departments wishing to prevent an automatic update to IE10 to deploy the blocker? After all, we’ve noticed that Microsoft tend to panda more to the needs/demands of large corporation’s IT departments than to regular home users. So they’re unlikely to push IE10 through a Windows Updates update until they’re happy that those who want to block it, have done.

Either way, as soon as we learn that IE10 has been fully released and available through Windows Update, we’ll be sure to let you know!

…and if you’re an IE user we’d certainly encourage upgrading to IE10 when you can, it really is a big leap forward from IE9!

UPDATE: 26th February 2013: Internet Explorer 10 is now fully available to download for Windows 7

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. The video focuses on how people “love to hate” Internet Explorer. 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. This is 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. Yet in comparison to the latest offerings from the other major 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 released a long time ago. 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 promises to have support for the new and emerging “Web Speech API”. This may 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 Star Trek IV…

Scotty - Hello Computer

In other Chrome news; if you’ve got an Android smartphone, 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 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. This may however be a restriction imposed by Apple, rather than by choice.

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 seen exactly what impact Firefox OS will have!

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 taken a back seat at Apple in recent times. Apple are seemingly more focused on their hardware offerings, than on their web browser. In fact, as we reported, they’ve ceased development on the Windows version of Safari. Perhaps 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 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. This might actually 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 was 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.

It doesn’t end there though. 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 certainly 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

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. As such, new features of the WebKit engine make it into sooner into one browser than the other. But if Opera also make the switch to WebKit at some point, 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.