Firefox 4 vs IE 9 vs Chrome 6: The Next Generation of Browsers Compared

By Matthew Braga

These days, developers are taking the web seriously, and that means big things from the makers of Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

It's scary to think that, just a few short years ago, Google Chrome didn't exist, Internet Explorer was still floundering in the depths of web standards hell, and  Mozilla's Firefox was winning over the hearts and hard drives of users everywhere. Today, the internet is obviously a very different place, and so are the browsers we use to explore it.
The simple fact is, developers are actually taking the web seriously now. It's no longer acceptable to code a website or service with three browsers in mind, and standards have become more important than ever. With the next generation of Chrome, Firefox and IE, users will find the most streamlined internet experience yet, regardless of what browser they use — at least, that's the hope. 

Chrome 6

For example, Adobe's Flash was just recently integrated into the browser, while the company continues to make improvements on both HTML5 and CSS3 fronts. Considering how eager Google is to ride HTML5 into the web's cloud-based future, the rapid pace of these updates is unsurprising. Other features, like the Web Open Font Format, for instance, may also make appearances in future versions of the webkit engine, making it easy to embed non-standard fonts into websites with ease.

However, one of the biggest improvements to Chrome 6 comes from WebM and the VP8 codec. The company is serious here about creating an open and Flash-free version of the internet, one that's built right into the browser, and this is what it'll take to achieve that goal — at least, where video is concerned. Google will no doubt lead for a while in this department, but with a juggernaut like YouTube under its belt, it wont be long before others follow suit.

Firefox 4

Mozilla on the offensive. The result is that future versions of Firefox should now adopt a similar multiprocessor implementation like Chrome and Internet Explorer, as well better handling of poorly written extensions and plugins.

But aside from improvements to speed and security, what else can we expect from Firefox 4? More comprehensive sync capabilities are expected to reach par with Google's offerings, while improved HTML5 support is planned to bring the browser up to speed with the likes of Chrome and Safari. But that's not to say Mozilla doesn't have some tricks of its own. Referred to as Gears-killer over two years ago, Mozilla's Prism technology was originally slated to bring offline, HTML5-based applications to the desktop. It's unknown whether this feature will make the cut for Firefox 4's initial release, but with Chrome's own App Store lying just over the horizon, it can only be a matter of time before Mozilla joins in too. 

Internet Explorer 9

Perhaps that's why we'll be seeing some of the company's biggest changes yet with Internet Explorer 9. While we've yet to hear much regarding actual features, Microsoft has been particularly forthcoming where it matters most — performance. Much work has been done on the browser's Trident rendering engine, with improvements to JavaScript performance and extension handling as well. And of course, big gains in terms of HTML5 and CSS3 support have been touted too, some of which turned heads in a video last week, wherein IE9's canvas support blew Chrome 6 "out of the water."
Ultimately, there's no way to pick a clear cut winner until the final builds of each browser is in our hands. The changes we've seen so far are impressive, however, and it seems that developers have begun to reach a common goal in terms of standards support and compatibility. Internet Explorer, once the black sheep of web standard support, seems to be taking its stagnating brand much more seriously, while Chrome and Firefox continue to build on the features that made them popular in the first place. The bottom line for users is that, with improvements like these, everyone wins, and if that means a better, faster internet, then there really isn't a better time to be online.     
Images via Flickr user kenleewrites, Microsoft.