There is in the air a sense of opportunity in the browser world. eWeek is reporting the first signs that IE is losing significant chunks of browser market share. Not good for Redmond since they would like 90%++ market share for when users are to be lead into the Promised LonghornLand. Mozilla will have the big New York Times ad on November 9th – if it raises awareness of Firefox and increases downloads (and they are ready for the extra traffic)then call it a success.

However, this Firefox keeps discovering new features that make at the sametime Firefox ever more compelling and frustrating. On the compelling side, Firefox has made dynamic updating of the bookmarks menu easy to do but still does not support a workspace layout save – nor tilable windows like in Opera. Compelling again – Firefox has added RSS support but it appears to be ephemereal – working sometimes but not always just like the plugins download which recognizes some plugins but not others. For example, Java applets work on some websites and then not on others. So close to the final launch, Firefox is miles ahead of IE but that is a lot of Bugzilla Smoothing work to be done.

Meantime Opera continues to impress especially on the speed front. Opera is teaming with SlipStream to provide Slipstreams compression and acceleration services for Web browser and mail services. In a world of broadband emerging – who cares ? Well even with broadband, goosing up Operas already fast response time by a factor of 2 to 6 times is nothing to sniff at. This deal shows the advantage of charging for the browser – Opera has dollars/user that it can give to Slipstream such that it can afford to improve its browser in what Opera believes is substantial ways. As soon as we can we shall try to report back on whether Opera has made a smart investment.

Finally, I expect that Google will be in on the Firefox announcement – but with Firefox as core technology for the Gbrowser – 1 chance in 3.