Firefox 5 Beta is Now Available

In case you missed it, the development team behind Firefox recently decided to dramatically increase the rate at which new versions of the browser are released. Coinciding with their statement that Firefox 4, 5, 6, and 7 should all be released in the 2011 calendar year, Mozilla recently released the first beta version of Firefox 5.

Some new features included in Firefox 5 beta include:

  • Added support for CSS animations
  • Added support for switching Firefox development channels
  • The Do-Not-Track header preference has been moved to increase discoverability
  • Improved canvas, JavaScript, memory, and networking performance
  • Improved standards support for HTML5, XHR, MathML, SMIL, and canvas
  • Improved spell checking for some locales
  • Improved desktop environment integration for Linux users

… and many bugfixes, including a 12-year-old bug affecting MathML and a 7-year-old bug affecting the location bar in new tabs.

One thing you’ll notice about applications with rapid release cycles (like Chrome, for example), is that individual updates won’t include terribly exciting features. As mentioned in Jeff Atwood’s fantastic The Infinite Version post:

Chrome has become so fluid that it has transcended software versioning altogether.

And the new features included in the newest version of Chrome? “HTML5 Speech Input API. Updated icon.” Try to contain your excitement.

Judging from reactions of the new Firefox beta, it looks like many users prefer the quick and silent updates of Chrome and hope to see it integrated in Firefox. As noted by Hacker News commenter dpcan:

I install Firefox for friends and family who I want off IE, and this actually embarrasses me a little. If I have to keep telling them to update, they will quit – or end up using REALLY OLD versions of Firefox and we’ll have an IE6 situation all over again soon but with Firefox.

Before updating to beta versions of Firefox, be sure to note that some (or all) of your extensions may not work initially with the new browser. Beta testing new versions of Firefox is a very important part of the software development process, so if you do give it a try, be sure to send in your feedback and report any bugs you find.

Have you given the new version of Firefox a try? Do you prefer Firefox’s update method or Chrome’s? Share with us in the comments.

Microsoft Office 2010 Beta Expires October 31st

It’s almost been a year since we covered the release of Microsoft Office 2010 Beta.  In the time since the Microsoft Office 2010 Beta was released, over 9 million people have downloaded and installed the beta version.  But since all good things must come to an end, the free Office 2010 beta will soon expire.

In a release from Microsoft, they say:

Dear Microsoft Office user:

Your Microsoft Office 2010 Beta is ending on October 31. The applications you’ve been using, including Word 2010, Excel 2010, Outlook 2010 and PowerPoint 2010, will become read-only viewers and the features you’ve been using will no longer work. Before this happens, we recommend you move up to the finished version of Office 2010.

Since having a read-only version of Office doesn’t make for the highest productivity levels, now is the time to purchase the full version of Office 2010.  As with previous versions of Office, Microsoft has a couple of different Office suites to select from.  Be sure to choose the right one for your needs.

    

Some changes available in Office 2010 include improvements to PowerPoint, Excel, and document co-authoring.  Here’s a quick video on some of the new features available in Microsoft Office 2010.

If you’re still not sure about purchasing a full version of Microsoft Office 2010, it is still possible to download and install a fully functional 60 day trial version of each Office 2010 suite.

What has been your experience with the Office 2010 beta and do you plan on purchasing the full version?  Let us know by commenting below!

New Silverlight-based Facebook Client Impresses

I really don’t care for out-of-browser clients for my internet services.  They are typically a sluggish waste of time, instead of an extension of what I like about its browser-based counterpart.

Luckily, the Silverlight 4 Facebook Client is very useful and less of a pest (Silverlight is a Microsoft technology for creating interactive applications, similar to Adobe’s Flash).

In fact, the Silverlight Facebook client runs so well, I now prefer using it on my ‘work’ laptop so that I can quickly peek at statuses and new pics as they’re added.  The client is light on resources, easy to look at, and includes almost every Facebook feature that you’d typically use (including a photo uploader).

So, if you were running any Facebook Desktop apps, now is the time to trash ’em and check this client out instead.

The Silverlight Facebook application offers improved functionality with better-than-browser speeds for staying up to date with your favorite social network. Check it out!

Newsflash: Steam Beta Now Open

Attention gamers: The Steam client is now in beta for the new user interface.  You can choose to use the beta client by going to settings and choosing UI Update under the Beta Participation section.  You will be asked to restart Steam as the update is applied.

So far the new UI is looking nice and remains easy to navigate.  The many new features allow you to better track your game progress, and see what games you play the most.  The updated UI also has conveniences to help you stay on top of your favorite games by displaying a Recent News feed below your games. (Previously seen by right click -> View Update News)

The new interface includes both small and large improvements across the board, and is definitely worth checking out. (Don’t forget to send feedback by hitting the Beta sticker in the corner!)

Check out additional screenshots of the new UI below!

[nggallery id=9]

Microsoft Office 2010 Beta Now Available

office-2010-betaMicrosoft Office 2010 has recently been released as as a public download.  The download weighs in at a fairly light 685 MB and includes Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath, SharePoint Workspace, and Communicator (which is an instant messenger for Outlook).

If you’re working in the IT field and want to prepare for the future, I would suggest downloading this software and testing out the new products (especially if you or your clients use them every day).

The system requirements for Office 2010 are relatively low so you won’t need to perform a serious computer overhaul to install it:

  • Processor: 500 MHz or higher
  • Memory: 256 MB of RAM or higher
  • Hard Disk: 3 GB
  • Operating Systems: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7
    • Supports both 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows

My initial impression of Office 2010 is that the software is very promising.  Although it looks similar to Office 2007, I can see that the program is much more customizable to an individual’s needs and wants.

office-2010-screenOne new feature that I think most people will enjoy is a line preview for cutting and pasting.  This lets you view what the paste would look like before actually performing the paste, which can save you a lot of undoing.

Word 2010 now comes with built-in photo editing tools which is great for users that have to edit pictures in their documents.  PowerPoint has much better support for videos in presentations (which I wish was available when I was going to school).

That’s my two cents on the new version of Microsoft Office, I’ll have more to come after I’ve used it some for longer than the time it took to write this article.  Cheers!

[Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 Beta Download]

Google Chrome Beta Adds Themes

google-chrome-iconDo you use Google Chrome?  Do you like themes?  If so, I’ve got great news for you – you can now have both!  The new beta version of Chrome adds theme support and a gallery of nearly 30 themes designed by Google.

Here’s how to add themes to Chrome:

  1. Download and install Chrome Beta (this is different than the standard version of Chrome you may already be using)
  2. Check out the Chrome Themes Gallery
  3. Preview themes by clicking on the thumbnail, or add one instantly by clicking ‘Apply theme’

A few of my favorite themes so far: Glow, Glossy Blue, Greyscale, and Earthy.

Glow Theme for Google Chrome Beta
Glow Theme for Google Chrome Beta

And my least favorite: Legal Pad.

Legal Pad Theme for Google Chrome Beta
Legal Pad Theme for Google Chrome Beta

The theme gallery is fairly limited so far, but the Google Chrome Blog explains that more themes will be added in the future as this feature becomes integrated in the stable version.  Chrome Beta has some other great features (like customizing the New Tab page and an improved “Omnibar”), so let us know what you think in the comments!