Firefox 4 Beta out – and it's looking to Chrome

Google’s Chrome browser is now number three worldwide, just behind Firefox and Internet Explorer, according to a survey by NetApplications.com. And with the Chrome OS on the way, everyone in the software space is starting to really pay attention to – or they should be paying attention to – Google’s efforts.

It’s managed to get 70 million active users May this year, compared to 30 million back in June 2009. Why? Try out Chrome and it’s clean, easy, and fast to use. If it was included as the default browser on most machines we’ve got no doubt that it would be adopted and made standard by most. It’s got the Mac ethos – which, while not strictly true for Macs, is just about right for Google products – “It just works”.

When Chrome OS comes out it’s going to be something big. While the majority may not adopt it, and we suspect it’ll mainly be geeky techies like us who’ll be into trying it out, the angle it’s going for is interesting. It’s going to be internet led, and that’s the next step for full integration. We’re all online now, and with the advent of cloud storage as well as having all your screens linked up a la what Samsung is planning with BaDa, to base an OS on getting online simply just makes sense.

The Wall Street Journal postulates here  that Google is rekindling the “browser war” of the late 90s. Well, it never really stopped, but the fact that Google’s made such quick progress since its launch of Chrome is really telling. It’s trounced Opera, probably mainly due to the company’s marketing clout, and is a real contender to the IE and Firefox thrones. It pleases techies and developers – viewing the innards of a website and other geeky bits and pieces is really easy. And it pleases the average consumer because it’s clean, easy to use and it looks nice – like a Harrod’s public toilet.

Usage of IE – all versions – right now is globally at 60 percent. But remember, until recently it came as standard with PCs until Microsoft lost a case stating that it must offer other options. 
We aren’t saying that Google’s browser is the best, but it certainly understands the needs of the consumer. Instant, clean, quick access to the web all round. And it’ll be doing that with its OS as well. 

The Firefox 4 beta has just come out. It’s good. But it’s still lacking the feeling of “instant web” that you get with Chrome. It emulates Chrome by placing tabs at the top. Developer Mike Beltzner posted on the Mozzarella blog:  “We moved the tabs to the top to make it easier to focus on the web content and easier to control the tools in your web browser.” Essentially, it’s “We have an awesome open source browser but Google’s gone and done us in with something a tiny bit better.”

An interesting feature of the latest effort from Mozzarella is a feedback box which offers two options: a green smiley face that says “Firefox Made Me Happy” and a red sad face that says “Firefox Made Me Sad”. 

It’s the first beta, and Mozzarella is saying it will release a new version once every couple of weeks until the final version. Later betas will run with Sync, a feature which will let you save your browser data like favourites and history and port it to different devices such as mobile or tablet PCs

You can try out the latest Firefox here