Browser wars and new media

This week in software news, Microsoft launches IE 9 test version, Mozilla pushes Firefox 4 to 2011, and RealPlayer drops its beta label.

Browsers saw some renewed interest over this past week as Microsoft kicked off its Professional Developers Conference in Redmond. The company released an updated test version of Internet Explorer 9, which is a new platform preview that developers can use to test Web sites. However, it's not an update to the more full-featured beta version that Microsoft released earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Mozilla announced that it would be pushing back the Firefox 4 launch to 2011. Six beta versions have arrived in recent weeks, but Firefox 4 beta 7 hasn't appeared, despite more than six weeks of frenzied development. The delay is no surprise given the difficulties in releasing the first full-featured beta of the open-source browser--but it also gives breathing room for several competitors.

We also saw an update to CCleaner, with version 3 including some extremely useful new features that make it worth the upgrade. One of the biggest is a drive-wiping tool that can wipe all the data from your hard drive and can also scrub only the available free space.

Finally, the latest RealPlayer dropped its beta label last week. Since the software already offered a sweeping array of features, from one-click video downloading to automatic transcoding to social network sharing, that latest offering focuses mainly on improved device integration and an even smoother user experience.