Latest News: MIDAS v4.29 Released | Refer-a-Friend | MIDAS Turns 15

Posts Tagged: safari

Google Chrome 19 Released!

Google Chrome 19The Google Chrome team have today announced the release of Chrome 19 for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.

As part of our ongoing commitment to MIDAS, the latest version of our scheduling software is also fully compatible with this new release of Google Chrome!

If you’re an existing Google Chrome user, you don’t need to do anything! One of the great things about Chrome (which other browsers are now starting to implement too!) is that it silently updates itself with no user interaction (other than a restart!) required. This ensures that you’re always using the most stable, secure and up-to-date version of Google Chrome!

We also test our web app in pre-release builds “developer” builds of Google Chrome! Testing in these builds (which right now are for Chrome 20!) helps us to identify as early as possible any potential incompatibilities. This means you can be sure that whenever a new version of Chrome (or any of the 5 major browsers) is released, MIDAS will be compatible with from the get-go!

In other Chrome-related news, rumors are currently brewing that a version of Chrome is in the works for iOS. So if you have an iPhone or an iPad, you may soon be able to use Google Chrome on your device!

Business Insider reports that Chrome could be released for iOS devices as soon as the end of June, but definitely sometime by the end of 2012. As yet, neither Apple nor Google have confirmed this report.

However, if the reports are true, this will undoubtedly be welcome news for iOS users, who so far have had little choice but to use the default browser on their iOS devices – Apple’s own “Safari” browser. Giving users the option to use a different browser is a big step forward – but so far it’s unknown if Apple will allow an iOS version of Chrome to actually be set as a “default” browser for the iPad/iPhone.

…and whilst we’re still on the subject of touch-enabled devices, such as the iPad, read about our upcoming improvements to support for touch screens

Browser Wars: “Version Number Supremacy”

web browser versionsSo, no sooner do we blog about the Release of Firefox 6, and go on to outline how we also test our online scheduling tool in the very latest “alpha” builds of Firefox 8.0 too.. Mozilla go and bump the “alpha” build version from 8.0 to 9.0 overnight!!

So we decided to look a little closer at just what’s going on with Mozilla’s rapidly increasing “versioning” of Firefox of late…

In its simplest form, a browser version is made up of two numbers separated by a decimal point (period). The first number would be the “Major” version number, representing a significant milestone release. The second number would be the “Minor” version number, reflecting subsequent “minor” changes since the “Major” version was released. Sometimes a “revision” number or “build date” was also tagged onto the end of the version string.

Back in the days when there was really only two main players in the browser market, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, browser versions incremented steadily and logically. For Internet Explorer, the release of significant versions went a little something like this:
IE1.0, IE2.0, IE3.0, IE4.0, IE5.0, IE5.5, IE6.0, IE6.1, IE7.0, IE8.0, IE9.0
..with IE10.0 expected to be ready to coincide with the release of Windows 8 next year

Firefox followed in a similar vain for their significant releases:
FF1.0, FF1.5, FF2.0, FF3.0, FF3.5…

But then something happened to shake up the Browser world… along came Google Chrome!
Starting with version “1.0”, Chrome’s developers decided to do away with traditional versioning of each minor update. Instead, they decided that EVERY update they released for Chrome would be a “major milestone”! Hence, why after just a year or two in development, Google Chrome has already jumped up to version 12.0 (with “alpha” builds available right now for version 15.0!)

For most people comparing two similar software products, “Version 12” of one browser sounds more impressive and stable than “Version 3” of another web browser. So, not wanting to be outdone, Mozilla has now followed suite and instead of releasing logical progressions of Firefox 3.6, 3.7, 3.8…etc, they’ve jumped from 3.6 to 4 to 5 to 6 in a matter of months!!

To make matter’s worse, Mozilla could well be doing away with visible version numbers altogether in the not too distant future! Explaining the reasoning, Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler wrote in a discussion forum:

We concluded that most people don’t need to know what version number they’re using and what they actually want to know is whether or not they’re running the latest version. For the few people who care whether it’s version 7 or version 2011-08-16 or version 1.8.0.0.1.77, they can get this information from about:troubleshooting which is available in the Firefox Help menu.”

Dotzler added:

“We have a goal to make version numbers irrelevant to our consumer audience.”

So what can we learn from all this?

A software version number these days carries very little merit!

A higher version number of one product no longer means any more development has gone into it than a similar product with a lower version number!

Whilst these version numbers may well be irrelevant to a “consumer audience” as Mozilla state, they do still provide essential information to developers who create web-based apps such as ourselves!

If ever a user experiences difficulty with our software, one of the first things we ask them is which browser and version they are using! Making it more difficult for a non-technical user to locate this information isn’t going to be helpful!

Where will it end!?

Well, unless rival web browser developers stop competing for “version number supremacy”, who knows! …maybe it won’t be long until we see Firefox v53 and Google Chrome v182!!

Right now, Microsoft and Apple seem to be the only ones still maintaining some degree of sanity in the versioning of their respective browsers, Internet Explorer and Safari.

You can see which browser versions our web based scheduling software supports here

We have no plans on changing the way we “version” each new release of our browser based room scheduling software – you’re not suddenly going to see “MIDAS v12”!!

We keep our versioning really simple and straight forward. For example, our last releases of MIDAS were 3.10, 3.11, 3.12, 3.13, and our next will almost certainly be 3.14! (Unless we decide to code name it “Pi”! hehe!)

In developing a web based app like MIDAS, we had to make some decisions as to which web browsers we were going to support. When we first started work on MIDAS back in 2005, there were at the time only really two main players in the browser market. These were Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, and we supported them both.

Today, there are now 5 key players in that same market; Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and Apple Safari… all of which compete for a market share. There was a time when Internet Explorer dominated the market, with nearly a 90% share at its peak. Internet Explorer’s dominance however has been steadily declining in recent years, as evidenced from our own website visitors so far in 2011:

Current Browser Share
Current Browser Share
Current IE usage
Current IE usage

From our own statistics, we see that 6.96% of Internet Explorer users are still using IE6. This is surprising slightly more than are using the latest version, IE9 (only 6.92%)). Most Internet Explorer users currently use IE8 (67%) or IE7 (19%)

Current versions of our web based room booking system, MIDAS, will run in recent versions of all 5 main browsers. We did however finally drop support for Internet Explorer 6 last year.

Yet we know that many organizations around the world are still forcing employees to use Internet Explorer 6 on their corporate networks. Why is this? Why do companies insist on sticking with a browser that’s now a decade old, given how fast the Internet has evolved during that time!? We decided to try and find out why…

From IE6 to the present day..

Internet Explorer 6 logo Internet Explorer 6 was first released back in August 2001 just a year after the release of IE5.5. Since IE6’s release, Microsoft have subsequently released 3 major versions of their Internet Explorer software. IE7 was released in October 2006, IE8 in June 2009, and this year saw the release of Internet Explorer 9, with IE10 already well in development. But there was a long gap between the release of IE6 and IE7 (5 years in fact!). This allowed for widespread adoption of IE6 by IT departments the world over during this period.

The importance of keeping up to date

Now, any home user knows it’s important to keep their web browser up-to-date. This not only ensures the best possible viewing experience with the latest web technologies (which are moving at a very fast pace these days!), but also, and more importantly help keep their browser and computer protected from new security vulnerabilities and exploits. Browser updates are always provided free of charge and are readily available – some even automatically update themselves!… so why do corporate IT departments stick with IE6 and not keep their software infrastructure up to date?

Should Corporations & IT departments be doing more?

We’d always assumed a key reason why organizations haven’t updated from IE6 was down to laziness. We spoke though with one IT professional about her own experiences of a recent corporate roll-out of IE8, which paints a different picture:
“We went from (Internet Explorer) 6 to 8 and it’s a nightmare. It’s random things like some of our web based apps which use Windows authentication no longer work, others that use the “remember me” option now don’t log you out properly. We have issues retaining our proxy settings and to top it off it’s so slow! … (IE6) works better!”

So are corporations simply not upgrading due to usability and compatibility issues with their existing software infrastructure? At MIDAS, we ensure that our web based room scheduling app is compatible with the very latest versions (and development builds) of the 5 major browsers. Should other developers of web apps be doing the same? We believe so!! …but could Microsoft themselves be doing more too?

Should Microsoft be doing more?

Ditch Internet Explorer 6 Whilst Microsoft do provide some helpful resources for corporate IT departments looking to migrate from IE6, Microsoft have committed to continue support for IE6 until 2014 (coinciding with the “End of Life” of Windows XP), primarily because of this corporate sector! In our opinion, Microsoft should have ended support for IE6 a long time ago. If they had, it would force corporations and developers alike to upgrade and modernize their software. Ultimately, this benefits the wider Internet community! Developers can then utilize new and emerging web technologies, such as HTML5, CSS3. This in turn provides a better user experience, rather than developers having to instead spend time trying to make their modern software backwards compatible with a decade old obsolete browser!

The future for IE6

Google, YouTube, Hotmail, WordPress, and many other well known sites have already dropped support for IE6 in recent times. Here at MIDAS HQ we took the decision last year to no longer focus on ensuring IE6 compatibility for our web based app, MIDAS. Our main reason was because this was holding back development, preventing us from implementing new features, taking advantage of new and emerging web technologies.

Conclusions

Whilst we’re encouraged by Microsoft’s recent reinvigorated approach and commitment to further development of Internet Explorer, they should never have left IE6 to stagnate for as long as it did before releasing IE7. This has led to many corporations becoming too dependent on an outdated and vulnerable browser. Microsoft’s pledge in continuing to support IE6 until 2014 is, and will continue to hold back development of the web.

We would urge any organization or IT department still using IE6, not to wait until its “End of Life” but to upgrade as soon as you feasibly can! If there’s compatibility issues with your 3rd party apps or software, contact the publishers/developers of that software. If they are as committed to their software as we are to MIDAS, they’ll want to ensure full compatibility of their product with the latest web browsers. If they can’t do this, perhaps it’s time to start looking for alternatives now before it becomes too late!

We’re really excited about the future direction the web is taking, with new standards and technologies emerging. But we need corporations and business to help drive the web forward! This is currently hindered by the continued use of IE6!