The Washington Post reports that as web browsers increasingly become the focal point of handling business transactions, and running programs instead of simply displaying web pages, many of them are getting “facelifts.” Opera Software released its Opera 9 browser on Tuesday, with Microsoft and Firefox due to release new versions later in the year. With search engine use up since the last release of Internet Explorer, and the proliferation of end-user applications such as maps, word processing and other applications that were traditionally “stand alone,” developers are devoting tremendous amounts of resources to incorporating these uses into web browsers. Internet Explorer 7 will have a search box that allows web search without visiting an engine. In addition, the latest version will support tabbed browsing and non-English characters in domain names. Opera 9 will allow for “widgets”–programs that appear stand alone, but are actually incorporated into the browser. These widgets will run web-based applications from the browser, and enable those who are knowledgeable in web coding to develop their own widgets to check whether, email, existing auction results, etc. Firefox 2 will also incorporate search, and it will allow for a function to restore browser pages in the event of a program crash… (Note: This site requires free registration.)