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 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]