The little browser that packs the features and speed of Chrome, without the call-home features that many feel tarnish the luster of that browser, called Iron, has graduated to major revision 9, having spent only a 5 week period at major revision 8.
This makes a major speed up for the browser, which now looks as though it will release on a much tighter schedule, mirroring that of Google’s Chrome, with barely any time to remove the features its purveyors find unsavory.
The changes are few, but important, and are given in the terse announcement –
We released the new Iron 9 today, Which contains all features and updates from known Chromium 9th. The current version is 9.0.600.0.
Mainly the WebGL support was improved, you can test it under http://www.chromeexperiments.com/webgl . We also removed the “instant” feature for more Privacy.
There are therefore some new experimental features in “about: flags”.
This version will please many with the additions that Chromium 9 sports, but one thing that I noticed, as did several very vocal users, who immediately hit the comments after installing the new version, was that the ability to have 12, rather than 8, favorite sites, was missing again from this version, as it had been removed from revision 8. Those very vocal few made big noise right away about it, including one person that pointed out the code which allows for the number of favorites, stating that it could easily be modified to allow for user interaction, and a varying number of favorites allowed, as Opera does. (After all, if you’re going to nick a feature from a competitor, you might as well get it right!)
The new version seems solid, but after a “shakedown cruise” I returned to Iron 7.0.520.1, as the favorites feature outweighs the ability to work better with WebGL, as so few sites have it at the moment.
Should you think you may want to go back to a previous version of Iron, 7 or before, after installing version 8 or higher, it would be advisable to back up the entire user profile (which is located in the users directory structure, not in the Iron (main) directory) as the composition of the settings has changed between major revisions 6 and 7. A note – the user’s entries for Iron in the local settings area (exact naming varies whether you are using Windows XP or Vista/Windows 7) and is still named Chromium, which is also why you cannot mindlessly install any version of Chrome for comparison, and expect to easily return to Iron with your settings intact. You must completely back up the settings, and then the same general settings can be used for both while comparing, and then the Iron specific ones can be restored when Chrome, or Chromium, is removed.
Another problem for some is the removal of the ability to be prompted for individual cookie retention. The setting is all or none now, and cannot be used on a case by case basis – this is a major loss, and there are many who are asking for the programmers at SRWare to reinstate it.
While this may seem like a lackluster review, the changes that have been made for the better are many, including some bugs quashed, but the people using the browser are very used to things that have deviated from the Chromium line, and are saddened and dismayed that they have been removed. With the early, and vocal expressions of disapproval, we will hopefully see the removed or changed features brought back, and with the show of quick turnaround time from Chromium to Iron 9 release, we should see any efforts to replace the features quickly … perhaps at the same time that the Mac and Linux versions of 9 become available.
Right now, it’s Iron 9 for Windows users only.