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In developing a leading browser-based Room Booking & Resource Scheduling System that’s supported in all major browsers, we often get asked “Which is the best web browser?”. So less than a day after Internet Explorer 10 becomes available for Windows 7, we decided it was time to put the latest web browsers “head-to-head” to find out which one of the current offerings is “the best”….

Browsers Tested

Google Chrome 23
Mozilla Firefox 16
Internet Explorer 10
Internet Explorer 9
Opera 12
Apple Safari 5

The Tests

13 different tests were performed on each browser, covering four key areas in Speed, Memory Usage, Compliance with standards, and Javascript Performance.

The results revealed some varied and rather interesting findings – We even found to our surprise that Internet Explorer 9 out performed Internet Explorer 10 in two of the tests!

Results Summary

Read the full test report, with explanations and our conclusions here

Download Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7It’s not often that Microsoft release a major new version of their Internet Explorer browser. In fact, in the past three years, there had only been two major updates to Internet Explorer (8 and 9). Compare that with other browser developers, such as Mozilla. In the same period, Mozilla released no fewer than 13 major updates to their Firefox browser (4 – 16). Also in the same period Google have introduced the world to their increasingly popular Chrome Browser. To date, Google have released 23 major updates to Chrome!

So there’s no question that Microsoft’s development of their flagship browser has been lackluster in recent years to say the least. However, that may soon be set to change with the surprise departure today of Microsoft’s Head of Windows, Steven Sinofsky. In a press release by Microsoft, CEO Steve Ballmer says:

“I am grateful for the many years of work that Steven has contributed to the company. The products and services we have delivered to the market in the past few months mark the launch of a new era at Microsoft…. To continue this success it is imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings”

Hopefully this commitment to “rapid development cycles” will mean that in the near future Internet Explorer will start being updated on a more regular basis. Years between updates really isn’t acceptable in this day and age, especially when competing developers are pushing out major browser updates every few months, if not every few weeks!

Anyway, back to Internet Explorer 10; Microsoft first released an “IE10 Platform Preview” on 12 April 2011. This allowed developers and Windows 7 users alike to get a glimpse of what’s to come in Internet Explorer 10. A second platform preview for IE10 was released shortly after… and then… nothing!

Then, when the developer previews of Windows 8 began to emerge, Internet Explorer 10 made a reappearance. Sadly, again only in “preview” form, but notably this time, Windows 7 users were left out of the loop. Microsoft wouldn’t allow these subsequent “previews” of IE10 to run on anything other than Windows 8. This decision left many developers who didn’t have access to Windows 8 developer previews frustrated as they were unable to check that their web apps/sites worked correctly with IE10.

The “final” version of Internet Explorer 10 (10.0.9200.16384) then came bundled with Windows 8 when Microsoft’s new operating system was released to manufacturers (RTM) on 26th October 2012. However, several weeks later and since the launch of Windows 8, IE10 still continues to elude Windows 7 users.

…until today! …well, kind of!

Today, Microsoft have made Internet Explorer 10 available to Windows 7 users!! Hang on, hold your horses! …it’s another “preview” only! A “Release Preview” to give it its proper title (Version: 10.0.9200.16438), which users can download and install alongside their existing IE9 installation.

You can download Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 here:
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/downloads/ie-10/worldwide-languages

Internet Explorer 10 build 10.0.9200.16438 This “Release Preview” requires that you have at least Service Pack 1 (SP1) of Windows 7 installed. Alternatively, you can also install this Release Preview if running Windows Server 2008 R2 (SP1) or Windows Home Server (WHS) 2011 too!!

There’s still no word on when a “final” release of IE10 will become available to Windows 7 users (via the usual Windows Update channel). But given that this is not just a “preview” but a “release preview” suggests a final release isn’t too far behind! The only clue we have from Microsoft is that “final availability to follow as we collect developer and customer feedback”

Should you wait for a “final” release of IE10 to become available for Windows 7, or should you download this latest “preview” now?

If you’re an avid Internet Explorer user, and have never tried one of the other browser offerings available today, the chances are you’re somewhat stuck in the past with your browsing experience in Internet Explorer 9. In which case, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with just how much better your web apps and favorite websites look and function in IE10 over IE9. So even though this is a “Release Preview” we suggest you install it!

Our browser based room scheduling software, MIDAS, is supported in all major browsers, and in Internet Explorer 8+ (although if you’re an IE user, we recommend IE10!)

Web Browser Roundup – November 2012

Following on from October’s Web Browser Roundup, here’s what’s been happening in the world of the web browser since then…

  • Internet Explorer – IE10 for Windows 7 coming this month… sort of!
  • Chrome – v23 out now, and can increase your battery life by 25%?!
  • Firefox – Market share drops below 20% – tough times ahead!
  • Safari – Download links for Windows users buried
  • Opera – 12.10 out now.. and Opera Mobile 12.1 also available

Internet Explorer:
Internet Explorer 10
The buzz with Internet Explorer revolves right now revolves around IE10. More specifically, the growing anticipation for the eagerly awaited release for Windows 7. Microsoft stated in a recent blog post that this will be available “mid-November“.

In fact, for a short period just before the launch of Windows 8, the download page for Internet Explorer 10 actually went live (although the download links contained therein were not live). Microsoft quickly pulled the download page within a matter of hours. At time of writing the link returns a “Page not found” error. However, we understand that when IE10 does become available for download it will be at this link

Great, you might think… however, there’s a catch… the upcoming release in “mid-November” is only going to be yet another “preview” version of IE10 with “final availability to follow as [they] collect developer and customer feedback”.

Why they can’t just fully launch IE10 for Windows 7 users outright we don’t know!

As there have already been several “developer preview” releases of IE10 for Windows 7 users going back more than a year.

Remember too that IE10 is already included as standard in Windows 8. You’d think that if there were any “issues” with IE10 these would have been identified and addressed by now!

You’d also think there would be a real desire from the Internet Explorer team to get IE10 out. Given that Internet Explorer 9 is now quite literally years behind the current offerings from the other main browser developers (Mozilla, Google, Apple, and Opera Software). Come on Microsoft! Get your act together!

We’re keeping our eye on the wires, and as soon as IE10 is available for you Windows 7 users, we’ll let you know!

UPDATE: 12th November: We understand from Roger Capriotti, Product Marketing Director for IE that the “Preview” build of IE10 for Windows will be available from tomorrow (Tuesday 13th November) – Watch this space!!

UPDATE: 13th November: As predicted, Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 is now available

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

Google Chrome:
Chrome more popular than IE
Today, Google have released the latest update to their Chrome browser, which has now reached v23 (v23.0.1271.64 to be precise!). According to their blog, one of the noticeable features is v23 offers longer battery life when running on your tablet/laptop. They claim it can extend your device’s battery life by up to 25%! If these claims prove true, that’s some noticeable improvement! Thanks to Google Chrome’s auto-update feature, if you’re an existing Chrome user, your browser should silently automatically update to v23 shortly!

Also, Google Chrome’s share of the browser market continues to grow at almost the same rate as Internet Explorer’s share declines. It remains to be seen what affect the wider availability of IE10 will have on this…

Google Chrome's share of the browser market continues to grow
Image via StatCounter

MIDAS is supported in Chrome 9+ (v23+ recommended)

Mozilla Firefox:
Firefox 16
Just after last month’s Web Browser Roundup, Mozilla released Firefox 16… only to withdraw it the following day due to a security vulnerability. This was promptly fixed, and Firefox 16.0.1 was released in its place.

Mozilla seem to be having a tough time of late, and their troubles continue…

Due to supposed “glitch” in the Browser Ballot screen that the EU forced Microsoft to show to users in the European Union in order to offer them a choice of browsers, it emerged that this screen wasn’t in fact shown to a large number of users.

This “glitch” had subsequently been fixed. However the EU are set to fine Microsoft for their mistake. Harvey Anderson, the Vice President of Business Affairs at Mozilla, has commented that “Firefox downloads saw a decrease of 63% to as low as 20,000 per day and increased by 150% to 50,000 per day after the fix was issued.“. In addition, he claims that Mozilla lost 6-9 million Firefox downloads during the 15 month period.

If that wasn’t bad enough for Mozilla, Back in 2007 they decided that they didn’t need to pay taxes for revenue that comes from their partnership with Google search. Why? Because according to Mozilla, $66 million (out of $77 million) dollars were a form of “contributions” and therefore, should not be taxable.

Unfortunately for Mozilla, the US government took a different view. As a result, Mozilla will now be paying a total of $1.5 million dollars. Mind you, this is considerably less than they were expecting, having set aside $15 million over this matter.

But the bad news still keeps coming for Mozilla! A report from NetApplications for October 2012 now puts Firefox at less than a 20% share of the browser market. The small, but ongoing, decline in Firefox’s user base is due mainly to its users switching to Google Chrome. Chrome has enjoyed a steady increase in market share since its launch in 2008. Many users feel that Chrome is faster and lighter on memory than Firefox. Certainly some recent builds of Firefox have been pretty memory intensive. However, Mozilla have made significant improvements in this area. Firefox v16 onwards has a much smaller memory footprint that earlier versions.

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

Safari:
Safari 5
It’s all quiet on the Safari front at the moment! Development on Apple’s web browser seems to take more a back seat to their hardware development. So when there’s an upcoming product launch, such as the new iPad mini, other Apple-related news is harder to come by!

There’s still no news as to whether Apple will ever release another update for Safari for Windows. Currently Safari 6 is only available to iOS users, with 5.1.7 being the highest version of Safari that Windows users can update to. Although, Apple have somewhat buried the download links for new Safari Windows installs deep within a KB article on their site! So, if you wish to download Safari 5.1.7 for Windows, here is the link.

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

Opera:
Opera 12
Development over at Opera Software continues at pace! Following 4 “release candidates” within just about as many days, today, Opera announced the release of Opera 12.10. In their own words, 12.10 contains “many updates and more bugfixes than I can count“. They also state that “This release is a recommended security update.“. The Opera browser is now quite impressive! It’s always had a small, but dedicated following, that’s never really grown much. But at the same time has also never shrunk. It’s also been around for a very long time. In fact, it was first released 18 years ago in late 1994! So over the years, many people have tried it, and not really liked it for whatever reason. However, today, the Opera browser is fast, sleek, and modern. It can easily give the other major browsers a run for their money!

One notable new feature in Opera 12.10 is support for a new “Fullscreen API” support. Previously the “Fullscreen API” has only been supported in Firefox 15+, Chrome 22+, Safari 5.1+. Now it comes to Opera 12.1+ too! (There’s still no support in IE10 though at time of writing!). So what is this “Fullscreen API” and why bother mentioning it?

Basically, the “Fullscreen API” allows developers to make elements in a web page, such as a video, go completely “full screen” without having to use Flash or some other means. Whilst most browser can go a sort of “full screen” (usually by pressing F11), the address bar and some navigation buttons are usually still present. The relatively new “Fullscreen API” allows web pages to completely fill your screen with no toolbars/navigation buttons etc. We are currently implementing this API to allow you to use future versions of MIDAS in true “full screen” mode. This means more screen space for displaying bookings! …watch this space!

Did you know that Opera 12.10 is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux? So if you’ve never tried Opera before, you’ve really no excuse!

Opera Mobile 12.1 for Android Phones is now also available. If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll know that our website is now “tailored” to viewing on mobile devices. Currently, only Opera and Firefox offer mobile versions of their browsers. So if you have an Android phone with an outdated browser, be sure to download Firefox or Opera Mobile for the best possible viewing experience!

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

Windows 8As midnight strikes around the world, countries will see Windows 8 finally released to the public in what is one of Microsoft’s most anticipated releases for many years, and arguably one of their biggest gambles too!

Why is it such a gamble for Microsoft? Well, Windows 8 sees a radical departure from the traditional Windows “desktop” environment. It’s geared very much towards touch-enabled devices, such as tablets. Whilst you can still access a “desktop” there is no traditional “Start” button in the bottom left corner, which will take many people some getting used to!

We predict uptake of Windows 8 will be relatively slow with home users. Whilst it can run on the same hardware requirements that Windows 7 can run on, as it’s geared towards touch-enabled devices – great if you own a tablet, or touch-enabled laptop, but it’ll be a couple of years or so before touch-enabled monitors for desktop computers become common place, and the benefits of Windows for regular home users can be fully realized.

Also, many businesses don’t see the benefit of upgrading their infrastructure to Windows 8 – many are still in the process of considering upgrading from XP to Windows 7! Microsoft themselves are not even encouraging businesses to fully adopt and embrace Windows 8!

In a new post on the official Windows Business blog, Microsoft recommends that organizations that are currently in the middle of transitioning from Windows XP to Windows 7, should continue those efforts. They add, “Taking advantage of the high compatibility between Windows 8 and Windows 7, we recommend customers identify employees and user groups that can benefit most from Windows 8’s capabilities and deploy Windows 8 for those people, alongside Windows 7.

For businesses that are still stuck on Windows XP, or are in the early stages of their Windows XP-to-7 transition, Microsoft says, “For some, moving their full company to Windows 8 will be the best choice, and for others it may be migrating first to Windows 7. Still, for many, it will be deploying Windows 8 side-by-side with Windows7 for key scenarios, such as Windows 8 tablets for mobile users.

If a large business is now using Windows 7 full time, Microsoft says they should begin evaluating Windows 8 installations “… for a side-by-side adoption with Windows 7 for key business scenarios.

So whilst Windows 8 may fail to make much impact at first, whether in the business sector, or traditional home computer market, perhaps what’s most exciting about Windows 8 – for us at least – is the inclusion of the new Internet Explorer 10. IE10 builds upon the success of IE9, and offers many significant improvements over its predecessor, both in terms of speed and performance, as well as greater support for new and emerging web standards and technologies (IE9 has been lagging behind somewhat from the current browser offerings from Mozilla, Google, Opera Software, and Apple)

On Windows 8, IE10 comes in two “flavors” – a desktop version, and as a “Windows Store” (formerly known as “Metro” or “Modern UI-style”) app:

Is Internet Explorer 10 available for earlier versions of Windows?
Internet Explorer 10 At present, sadly not! Microsoft have previously commented that IE10 will become available for Windows 7 users at some point, and have hinted at a “preview” version being available sometime next month.

If you’re using an earlier version of Windows (i.e. Vista or XP), you won’t be unable to run Internet Explorer 10 at all (in fact, if you’re still using Windows XP, you can’t even run IE9! – the highest version of Internet Explorer available to you is version 8)

We don’t know why Microsoft made this decision, or why they’re dragging their heels on making IE10 available for Windows 7 – well, it’s probably to encourage more people to update their operating system! But to us it seems crazy, not least of all from a security perspective! New web-based threats are discovered all the time, which regularly maintained and updated web browser can help combat, but by Microsoft preventing users from being able to use the latest version of their flagship Internet Explorer web browser, they’re certainly not helping in the fight against such threats!

So, in you’re on Windows 7 and are not planning to upgrade to Windows 8 just yet, you’ll have to wait a little longer to be able to get your hands on IE10…. and if you’re not even using Windows 7, forget it, you’ll never be able to run IE10! (You can still run other modern browsers i.e. Firefox, Chrome, etc on older operating systems like Windows XP)

That said, we really do like IE10 – it’s by far the best browser offering Microsoft have released to date, and our browser-based scheduling app, MIDAS, runs really well in it!

If you’re looking for a room scheduling software solution that’s compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, Macs, Linux, Chromium, Ubuntu… in fact any system with a modern, compatible web browser – MIDAS is for you! So…

To mark the launch of Windows 8 on Friday 26th October, we’re offering 26% off new purchases of MIDAS until the end of the month! Simply enter Promo Code “Win8” when purchasing through our secure website