BOSTON—Just over a month after its release, Google’s web browser, Chrome, may see its most attractive features undermined with the release of Mozilla’s Firefox 3.1, currently in the test phase.

This potential threat was released under the codename “Minefield,” and it can only be downloaded from a directory – a webpage that simply lists the files in an interface reminiscent of the early nineties Internet. Mozilla has kept this project a trade secret, and word of the early browser can only be found in scattered online forums.

Reports of the release have been traced to October 2 of this year, just three and a half months after they released Firefox 3.0, a software that established a Guinness World Record of over eight million downloads in one day. The Firefox 3.0 series is two to three times faster than the previous version, according to a guide released by Mozilla.

The manual stated that “the performance improvements are particularly noticeable in the case of complex web-based applications like Google Mail.” Perhaps not noticeable enough.

“That simplistic approach to Javascript engines isn’t enough anymore,” said Chrome developer Lars Bak in a Google press release. A global search giant, Google boasts a growing list of robust web-applications from interactive global maps to advertisement generators for websites. Although Javascript is a fast and lightweight programming language, too much of it can decrease the performance of computers and web browsers.

According to Google’s press statement, Chrome puts less stress on a computer’s processor by keeping things small and separated. The most innovative part about Chrome is that every new window or sub-window (called a “tab”) that users open becomes it’s own independent program. The windows can process webpages faster because each window and tab operates as completely independent programs. In the event that one tab stops working, it can be forced close without affecting the others.

In a telephone interview, social media expert Chris Brogan voiced his approval for both Chrome and Minefield, saying that there is still much more that Javascript can do. In his experience as vice president of the media marketing company CrossTech Media and as an award winning blog writer, Brogan said that the latest web trend is a desire to be “dynamic.”

“Everything is optimized to run a lot tighter now,” Brogan said, adding that the features that Chrome and Minefield have were explicitly meant to cater to the demands of complex websites. Browser development and website design push each other to the boundaries by either demanding compliance or offering space for creative innovation.

“It gives everybody else room to play a lot nicer,” Brogan said. Although familiar with both programs, Brogan said he uses neither Chrome nor Minefield, and instead relies on Mozilla’s current “stable” version of Firefox 3.0. His biggest critique, he said, was that he’d like to one day see browsers adapt some dynamic features, like widgets and customization, possessed by the high-performing websites they serve.



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