WORLD> Fast Firefox comes with bugs
By Martin J Young
HUA HIN, Thailand - A little over 24 hours after Mozilla unleashed Firefox 3.5
this week, its servers notched up 5 million downloads of the latest iteration
of the world's second-most popular web browser. The download rate was lower
than the previous version of Firefox, launched in June 2008 following a massive
Mozilla has a very effective upgrade mechanism which gets people adopting the
latest versions faster that its rivals. The
download and installation is painless and all settings, bookmarks and add-ons
from Firefox 3 are seamlessly transferred. Its current total market share
according to research firm Net Applications is around the 22% mark.
The need for speed has always been the clincher in the battle of the browsers
significantly faster than previous versions, an added bonus to those on slower
Internet connections. It is noticeably faster than rival browser Internet
Explorer 8 and on a par with Safari 4 and Google's Chrome.
Other new features include private browsing or "porn mode", which covers your
tracks on the web. When enabled, nothing about the session is stored, no
history, no cookies, no temporary files, no form fields and no search
information. It's almost as if you were never there. Removing your tracks has
also been made easier as the browser can be set to forget about specific
The ability to revive recently closed tabs can be a lifesaver if you're
constantly switching and closing them; this new feature can be found in the
history menu. New video and audio processing components allow for more
compatibility with online media and a number of other tweaks and enhancements
makes this upgrade a must for existing Firefox users and highly recommended for
those of you still plodding along with IE.
Initial reviews this week have praised the new edition, but there is bad news
with the good. A number of bugs have been discovered, indicating that the
release may have been rushed by Mozilla. At least 55 known bugs have been
published and Mozilla is racing to iron out the kinks and get those glitches
fixed with a release of version 3.5.1; this is not expected for a couple of
Since Microsoft unveiled the pricing structure for Windows 7 last week there
has been no shortage of confusion over the different retail editions and
exactly what users need to pay to get the new version of Windows on their
computers. The initial offer from the software giant was a US$50 upgrade for
Home Premium edition and $100 for Professional edition to US and Canadian
consumers only until July 11 (Asians and Europeans will have to wait). This was
on a limited run until supplies lasted and on a first-come-first-served basis.
An announcement on the company blog stated, "As a way of saying thanks to our
loyal Windows customers, we are excited to introduce a special limited time
The much talked-about free upgrade, or "Windows Upgrade Option", will only be
available to those who purchase a new computer with Vista pre-installed. This
option however will not be available until at the earliest October 22, the
official shipping date for Windows 7. The "free" part is also dubious as it
will be largely down to original equipment manufacturers that are likely to add
on their own surcharges.
Once the initial discount offer expires, the original price list will be in
effect as of launch date on October 22. This puts Windows 7 at a cost of
between $119 and $319 for US customers, depending on the edition and upgrade
Europeans will have to wait until 2010 before Microsoft starts selling upgrade
options and Full Packaged Product editions are more expensive as they are
priced at similar figures but in euros instead of dollars. It appears on the
surface that Microsoft is punishing European customers as a result of recent
skirmishes with European Union antitrust regulators.
The windows appear to be steamed up over the pricing strategies and multiple
editions, so those looking to make the software switch will also be looking for
a little more clarity.
Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.