Tag Archives: beta

Opera 11.10 Beta


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Catching up with Thomas from Opera during SXSW this past weekend was enlightening in more ways than one. The team attended the conference to show off the new beta for Opera 11.10. There are a lot of enhancements to this iteration of the browser and a few new goodies you should enjoy.

The popular Speed Dial feature has been beefed up quite a lot. All of your favorite pages will now have much clearer previews. Dials can even show live content for websites. There isn’t a limit as to how many dials you can use. It’s so simple to adjust the Speed Dial view to make it fit YOU and your setup. Click the little + sign to add a new website and type the address or just choose from a long list of suggestions.

Edit the name, and you’ve totally owned that dial. Devs can optimize their Speed Dial thumbnails which lets you see what is happening on your favorite sites with one quick glance.

The design has been enhanced significantly. The graphics and UI offer a more sleek and modern look. Features are much easier to find and actually use. This new design is said to have the feel of a “finely tuned browsing machine.”

Version 11.10 supports CSS3 linear gradients and multiple columns. The browser shows webpages using the best standards in all of their relative glory. It’s also now much easier to install your favorite plugins, including ones like Adobe’s Flash Player. They’ll install quickly and automagically.

It’s quite interesting to watch the browser wars these days. With the recent release of Internet Explorer 9 – and tomorrow’s release of FireFox 4 – Opera doesn’t have much choice but to innovate. With all of the new-fangled features in each of these offerings, it leaves me wondering where there is to go next. Will they one day develop a browser that will simply know what we’re thinking and take us there? Could we finally expect a browser that loads pages literally instantly?

Where do you think browsers will be heading in the next few years? What more can we possibly expect to see that isn’t already being done? Most importantly, (for this post, anyways) does Opera have what it takes to maintain a large user base?

Firefox 4 Thoughts and Review


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This week, Matthew is going to give you a little preview of Firefox 4 Beta 7. He wants all of you to see why he believes Firefox is most definitely still in the running for best browser available.

The only issue Matt has seen is that Aero crashes when he opens this Beta. Mozilla has integrated a lot of new features and a nice speed boost. One of the nicest inclusions is the way you can organize your tabs now. This gives you a visual overview of all open tabs, allowing them to be sorted and grouped. Additionally, your tabs are now on top by default.

You can search for and switch to already open tabs in the Smart Location Bar. There’s a new Addons manager which makes it much easier for you to sift through your extensions and decide what you want to enable, disable or update. The Bookmarks Toolbar has been replaced with a Bookmarks Button by default (you can switch it back if you’d like). And, the stop and reload buttons have been merged into a single button.

There are many other improvements to this already powerful browser. Have you checked out the new beta yet? What are your thoughts?

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What's New for Internet Explorer 9


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The beta for Internet Explorer 9 was officially released this morning during a press conference. This streamlined version has a better user experience and is far faster than any previous iteration of the application. With this release, Microsoft is asking us to “unlock the beauty of the web.” The team in Redmond feels that a browser should be focusing on a website – not the browser used to access it. IE 9 contains a lot of design changes and new features to make visiting websites an efficient process.

The new streamlined user interface features minimalized focus on the Home, Favorites and Settings menu buttons. They aren’t right in your face and larger-than-life anymore. There is a new position for Tabs and a new design for the URL bar. The speed is a drastic improvement, making it a competitor to other browsers once again.

The scrolling feature is a much smoother experience than in previous versions, assisted by new hardware acceleration. There is better Flash and HTML 5 integration. You will find that you now have the ability to easily see which add-ons might be slowing down the browser as it launches. There’s also a download manager to warn you if the code you’re trying to nab is potentially malicious.

Keep in mind that IE 9 will only work on Windows Vista or Windows 7. If you’re still using XP, you’re out of luck and unable to experience the actual goodness that we’re seeing out of the Microsoft camp today.

Thanks to Matthew for this excellent screencast and first peek at Internet Explorer 9.

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Google Chrome Beta: Speedy and Simple to Use

The newest beta release of Google Chrome promises enhanced usability and stability to users. The new features are designed to increase browser speed and responsiveness and makes it easier for you to access everything you need with just one click.

Autofill will help you fill in Web forms with information you specify, including your name, phone number, address and credit card numbers. The feature builds this information up over time. Eventually, you’ll be able to fill in a long Web form with only a couple of clicks – never having to re-type the information over and over again. For your security and safety, all personal information stored in Chrome is stored securely and kept private until you choose to use it on a Web site.

You’ll find more synchronization capabilities in this new version. In addition to syncing bookmarks, preferences and themes, you can now also sync your Chrome extensions and Autofill data (NOT including credit card numbers) through your Google account. With these sync features, you can personalize your Chrome experience and access your well-organized information and settings no matter what computer you may be using. As long as you sign in to your Google account on Chrome, you’ll be able to access everything you might need. Just head to the “Sync” section of the “Personal Stuff” tab in Chrome’s options to get started.

Are you a Chrome user or beta tester? What are your thoughts on the speed and overall performance of this newest iteration of the popular browser?

Google Chrome 5 Beta


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Marques has created several excellent screencasts for us in the past. This time, he wanted to show off how fast and stable the latest beta release of Google Chrome is. He feels that it’s the fastest browser to date. Additionally, Marques loves that the Extension integration has been made much simpler to use, and is instantaneous when you install or remove them.

There is quite a large collection of Extensions available. You’ll find categories for web development, blogging, shopping, sports, fun and accessibility. They install to your browser instantly with just one click, and remove themselves even faster. All you have to do is click on the little wrench icon at the top right of the browser, and choose Extensions.

The Acid3 Test is a fantastic way to test your browser’s speed and capability. It works with any browser you might have installed. It will determine not only the speed of the browser, but also how well it renders things. As you saw in the screencast, this version of Google Chrome rated 100 out of 100. The rendering wasn’t perfect… but again, it’s still a beta release. Apparently, my assistant Kat tested her Firefox browser, and only received a score of 94/100. That should tell you something, folks, about how much better this iteration of Chrome really is.

Thanks, Marques, for another great screencast.

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What Do You Think About Firefox 4 Beta 1?

Firefox 4 Beta 1 is now ready for download and testing. This version includes dozens of major features and improvements – and Mozilla wants to know what YOU think. There’s going to be a lot of other additions, and the team plans to release a new beta every couple of weeks. The devs are making it simple for you to provide important feedback to help them create the best browser possible.

In the upper right-hand corner of the beta browser, you’ll see a “Feedback” button. Click there and choose whether this iteration makes you happy or sad. Let them know why you chose your option. Keep in mind that without well thought-out comments and critiques, Mozilla (and other companies) can’t make things better. How is a company supposed to improve when they receive comments such as “You suck?” You have to be detailed and knowledgeable, which is why beta-testing isn’t for everyone.

If you’re using Windows, there are an awful lot of noticeable changes – including a general facelift. You’ll find a new add-ons manager, improved HD video watching capabilities, privacy improvements, crash protection and overall better performance. There are also several changes under the hood that are sure to make developers take note.

Have you tried out this newest iteration of the popular web browser? What are your thoughts so far?

Windows Live Essentials Preview

Windows Live Wave 4 Essentials beta was released today, but not everyone is happy. Zack Whittaker says simply that “it’s awful.” When describing the Mail portion of the app, Zack states “the program is clunky, sluggish and feels like it’s been thrown together by an angry child at best.” That doesn’t sound good. The only portion that Aack likes at all is Sync, which he claims works flawlessly.

Paul Thurrott, the Windows IT Pro, is much more optimistic in his review. In part: “Messenger is expanding to become the center of Microsoft’s social networking strategy and will integrate with Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and whatever else it is that people are doing these days. The sharing possibilities here are impressive, but I’m most excited by the news that Microsoft is going to deliver a native Windows Live Messenger application for the iPhone. We’re entering a new era here, folks.”

Formerly known as Windows Live Wave 4, Windows Live Essentials is available for download as a beta copy. The Microsoft software includes a suite of free applications including IM (instant messaging), photo/movie editor, email client and a live blogging tool.

If you’ve already tried out the beta, what are your thoughts so far?

Halo: Reach Beta Preview


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Dan is a moderator in our live community chat room who goes by the name of Guru_Meditation. As an avid gamer and radio personality in the UK, I knew he was the perfect person to review the beta of Halo: Reach I received from Bungie. Judging by what you see in this video, this newest iteration of the popular game is going to fly off the shelves when it is finally released later this year.

Halo: Reach is a first-person shooter game set in the year 2552, where humanity is locked in a war with the alien Covenant. In the game, players control Noble 6, a member of an elite supersoldier squad, during a battle for the human world of Reach.

Back in Halo 3, players weilded single-use equipment powerups that gave temporary offensive (or defensive) advantages. This system has been replaced in Reach with reusable armor abilities. Those armor abilities will stay with a player until replaced by you. Amongst the new abilities, you’ll find a jetpack, active camo, sprint and armor lock. Armor lock is pretty cool: it makes you invincible in exchange for loss of mobility.

If rumors are to be believed, this will be the final version of the Halo series EVER. If this is true, Dan feels it’s a perfect way to end things… on the note of the prequel. Halo: Reach is set in a time period prior to that of the original game.

Dan says that he’s read a lot of negative commentary about this version. Apparently, there are many gamers complaining that Bungie “dumbed-down” the multi-player mode a lot in this game and removed many strategic elements to focus more on action. But if you’re a newcomer to multi-player modes, you’re able to get into the game much more quickly.

The beta was due to end Monday night. Bungie released an announcement just a couple of hours ago, though: the beta has been extended! According to Bungie’s Brian Jarrard, “Our official plans as of now are to turn off the Reach beta on Thursday, 5/20 at 10 AM PDT.”

Dan feels strongly that gaming companies should step up to the plate and offer more beta games in this manner. It not only gives them a larger audience to help them iron out the kinks prior to release… it gets people excited about the game. Dan and I both predict that Halo: Reach is going to be a huge hit. More than one million people signed up for the beta on day 1, and the game broke into the top four most-played games on Xbox Live during the first week.

Thanks, Dan, for an excellent screencast and a fun look inside Halo: Reach. How many of you are now waiting impatiently for the game to be released this fall? Will you be grabbing a copy for yourself?

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No New Firefox Before the End of the Year

Mozilla had long been promising version Firefox 3.6 by the end of this year. According to their website, that goal has now been pushed back to early 2010. Also, version 4.0, which promises to be a major update, has been pushed back to late 2010 or early 2011. This is leaving some Mozilla fans with a case of the grumpies. However, they need to remember that all good things are worth waiting for.

Didn’t we learn any lessons from Windows Vista? Didn’t we all witness first-hand what happens when a company rushes a product out the door before it’s truly ready to be on the market? If the folks at Mozilla feel they need more time to deliver a solid product, then I say we give it to them and stop griping about it!

The big new feature in version 3.6 is incorporation of the Personas plug-in that lets people easily customize the browser’s appearance, though behind the scenes there’s also been work to speed up the browser’s launch time, improve security, and make some other changes. There have already been five beta versions released, but we’ve yet to see the release candidate. An RC signals to the masses that a final version is nearly ready.

There is a lot of competition in the browser wars these days, and releasing newer and better versions is always under a time-crunch. However, I repeat again that I’d rather wait a little longer for a high-quality product. I don’t want to see the Firefox team lose credibility by releasing something that won’t go over well.

What browser do you use, and why? What makes it better than others in your mind? If you’re a Firefox fan, are you happy to wait a bit longer for the new versions?