Firefox, Chrome spruce up

New releases of two of the world’s most popular browsers hit user desktops.

By - August 17, 2011
Firefox crystal ball

It’s been a busy couple of months for the Mozilla Foundation and Google. Both organizations this week release new versions of their popular browsers. Firefox 6 is the latest release from Mozilla while a Chrome 14 beta shows off some of Google’s plans.

Firefox 6

The Mozilla Foundation has made good on its promise to speed up its development schedule and already this year the Firefox browser has jumped from version 3 to version 6. And that’s not the end. The next release of Firefox, version 7, is already in the pipeline and will hit user desktops in the next month or so.

For now, however, Firefox 6 is the latest and greatest of the Mozilla releases and includes a handful of updates for fans. Most of the changes are not, however, immediately obvious and cover mostly internal workings of the browser.

Among those is better support for HTML5, support for WebSockets and improvements in load times. Firefox 6 also includes a plug-in checker which verifies extensions and checks for compatibility.

What can be seen is the Data Management Window which is used to manage the personal information that is available to third parties. There is also a scratchpad for developers that makes it easy to test out JavaScript snippets.

Firefox Scratchpad

Firefox Scratchpad

With its new speeded up development schedule each new version of Firefox is just a little bit better than the one before which means that each new release is not packed with features.

Firefox 6 is no exception and paves the way for version 7 and 8. Version 8, in particular, will include many of the major changes envisioned, including much greater control over plug-ins.

Firefox Permissions Manager

Firefox Permissions Manager

Chrome 14 beta

Not to be left out Google has also released a new version of its Chrome browser. Chrome 14 is now available as a beta version and sports one big change in particular: Native Client.

Native Client is a new technology that allows C/C++ code to be run inside Chrome. Using Pepper Native Client adds C/C++ capabilities to the Chrome browser taking it another step closer to being an operating system.

For developers the addition of Native Client means that they are able to using existing C/C++ code and experience to build richer web-based applications.

There is some similarity between Native Client and Microsoft’s Active X technology, including the associated risks of adding this support to Chrome.

Google says that to prevent problems it has included a dual sandbox environment to isolate potentially malicious plug-ins. Native Client also includes methods to prevent plug-ins from performing unauthorized actions, including using self-modifying code or attempting to directly access local files.

Chrome 14

Chrome 14

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