New search powers lead Firefox 3 and Microsoft Readies Internet Explorer 8 Beta

The latest version of web browser Firefox will make changes to the way people search for information online, says its developer. Firefox 3, currently going through its third stage of beta testing, will offer a combined search and bookmark tool via the url bar. It will also allow offline working.

Sexy Firefox

The other substantial change will be the ability to do much more offline, with the browser "remembering" key data that is usually lost when an internet connection goes down. This is designed to allow the user to continue to work when travelling or in remote areas where wireless access is patchy.

Firefox is currently the second most popular browser, although its 12% share is dwarfed by that of Microsoft's Internet Explorer. It has, however, substantially grown from its launch - first as Phoenix in 2002, then as Firebird, and finally ending up as Firefox in February 2004.


Microsoft plans to launch a test version of the next major edition of its Internet Explorer Web browser by the end of June at the very latest, a company official said on a blog post Tuesday.

Firefox Eats Internet Explorer

Currently in development, Explorer 8 hit a major milestone in December when it passed the "Acid2 Face" test, which measures the extent to which a browser conforms to a series of widely used Web standards. Among the enhancements planned for IE 8 are improved support for Ajax programming and better security.

Microsoft also needs to ensure that Explorer 8 will be compatible with Web sites designed for earlier versions of the software. A number of corporate IT departments, as well as the federal Department of Transportation, have shied away from IE 7 -- released in October 2006 -- due to such concerns.

Explorer 8 is just one of numerous products that Microsoft plans to release in the months ahead. On Wednesday, the company plans to formally launch Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2008 at an event in Los Angeles.

Later this year, Microsoft will release Small Business Server 2008. It's also planning to ship a public beta of its Silverlight 2 Web presentation technology in the coming weeks.


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