The renewed browser war resembles more of a game of leapfrog than the big-bang releases of the 1990’s when one version of Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator could change the balance of power in the browser wars overnight. Google says that Chrome is now 30% faster with today’s upgrade. That matches a performance claim made by Opera in about its new “Presto” rendering engine.
Two months ago, the Mozilla Foundation was bragging about how much snappier Firefox 3.5 will be over its predecessor. Apple, and many recent benchmarks conclude that Safari 4 is the title holder of ‘world’s fastest browser,’ and Microsoft has introduced Internet Explorer 8 by performing benchmarks of its own.
Many of them have already have adopted parts of the upcoming HTML 5 specification–the lingua franca of the Web–even though it is far from being finalized. The working group responsible for it is open to breaking it up into smaller pieces.
For the first time in years, there is major innovation happening in the browsers due to increased competition. Opera has longo liked to play the role of innovator; now it’s matching wits against Apple and Google. Mozilla Firefox, the first browser to dent Microsoft’s seemingly immovable market share, is not longer the cock of the walk.
Not too long ago, it seemed as if browsers were maturing. All I can say, is that this latest round of competition is a very good thing for people who use (and create) Web apps, and those who care about standards.