Need another reason to upgrade from WinXP? You might be stuck with IE

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2013 - 09:27 AM |
Tagged: winxp, firefox, chrome, browser

With 160 days remaining until the current official support expiration for WinXP unless you are willing to pay for the privilege of getting critical updates there is only a little time left in which third party providers need to continue support for the aging OS.  Two of the most noticeable of these will be Firefox and Chrome, both of which will be discontinuing development for their browsers on WinXP.  Their older versions will still work but will slowly succumb to more and more security vulnerabilities as they are discovered but not patched for WinXP.  This may not be the straw that breaks XP's back but recall that YouTube abandoning IE6 support was one of the driving forces behind the decline of that browser.  Slashdot comments for your entertainment here.

An update to this information does show that you have a while to go before this is a major concern as Firefox does not have a specific date in mind and Chrome is extending development for a few years yet.  You should still really consider upgrading to Win7 in the near future.

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"While Windows XP is still going strong the sun is rapidly setting on this old platform fast. Firefox plans to end support for XP which means no security fixes or improvements. Chrome is being discontinued a little later as well for Windows XP. Windows XP has its die-hard users refusing to upgrade as they prefer the operating system or feel there is no need to change."

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Source: Slashdot

Mozilla Reverses Decision to Axe 64-Bit FireFox Builds, But Support Will Be Left to the Community

Subject: General Tech | December 26, 2012 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox, browser, Internet, 64-bit

A month ago Mozilla announced that it would no longer release 64-bit versions of its popular Firefox web browser due to a lack of resources. While the stable versions for Windows were 32-bit, nightly builds were available to enthusiasts that were 64-bit and could take advantage of more than 4GB of memory.

Mozilla developer Benjamin Smedberg stated that there was significant negative feedback from the community over the decision to axe 64-bit nightlies. While Mozilla has reaffirmed that they do not have the resources to support 64-bit builds, the developers are proposing a compromise that they hope will assuage users. In short, the Release Engineering team will continue to build 64-bit versions of the Firefox browser, but Mozilla will consider it a teir 3 build and the support is left up to the community.

Firefox_logo.jpg

Currently, the plan regarding 64-bit versions of Firefox involves a forced migration of existing 64-bit users to 32-bit versions via the automatic browser updates. Then, after the migration date, users that want the 64-bit version will need to go and download it again. Once installed, users will be informed that it is not officially supported software and they are to use it at their own risk. Click-to-play plugins will be enabled in the 64-bit builds while the crash reporter will be disabled. Win64 tests and on-checkin builds of the browser will be discontinued.

Interestingly, all browser testing by Mozilla will be done on the 64-bit edition of Windows 8. Yet they are only testing and supporting 32-bit versions of Firefox. The current situation is less than ideal as the x64 Firefox browsers will not be supported by Mozilla, but at least the software will still be available for those that need it. For now, Waterfox is an option for those that need to install a 64-bit browser based on Firefox.

Does Mozilla’s decision to stop supporting the 64-bit Firefox browser affect you? What do you think of the offered compromise?

Source: Mozilla

Apple No Longer Updating Safari for Windows, Users Should Switch To A More Secure Browser

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2012 - 02:55 AM |
Tagged: windows, webkit, security, safari for windows, safari, browser, apple

The Apple-developed Safari is one of the least popular webkit-based browsers on Windows. Even so, it still commands 5% marketshare (across all platforms), and that is a problem. You see, many sites are reporting that Apple has dropped support for Safari on Windows. Windows users will not get the update to Safari 6–the new version available to Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7 Mountain Lion users. As well, it seems that Apple has removed just about every reference to ever having a Windows version of any Safari browser from its website.

Safari 5 for Windows.jpg

Image Credit: MacLife

The issue is that the final version that Windows users are stuck with–version 5.1.7–has a number of documented security vulnerabilities that are never going to get patched by Apple. According to Maximum PC, there are at least 121 known security holes listed in Apple’s own documentation. And as time goes by, it is extremely likely that the number of unpatched security holes will increase. Running an outdated browser is not good security practice, and running a browser that is EOL and has known vulnerabilities is just asking for trouble.

While the number of PC Perspective readers running Safari for Windows is likely extremely small, I would advise that you be on the lookout next time you are doing tech support for your friends and relatives, and if they managed to get roped into using Safari thanks to Apple’s Itunes software updater convince them to move to a (dare I say better) more secure browser like Google’s Chrome, Opera, or Firefox. At least those are still getting updates, and some are even automatically done in the background.

Have you ever used Apple’s Safari for Windows browser? What would you recommend as the best alternative? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Forbes

Mozilla Starts Asking For Donations from Users

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2011 - 08:42 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox, donations, browser

Mozilla, the company behind the popular open source Firefox web browser recently struck a quite lucrative deal with Google for providing the big G with a default search box and google search start page.  Apparently, 900 million (over three years) is not enough for the company; however, as they have started asking for user donations of at least $10.

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According to their new story page, "We believe the Web is a place where anyone can come to build their dreams."  The non profit states in the accompanying video that they are more than just a web browser, they are a global community fighting to keep the web a good, innovative place.  And that, they argue is why they need your support; to make the web a "force for good by making a donation today."

Personally, this feels like a cross between late night PBS broadcasts as a kid and Wikipedia's pleas for donations.  Sure, if you are a big fan of Firefox it couldn't hurt to support them; however, I don't think they are going anywhere any time soon.  What are your thoughts on this as a user?

Source: Mozilla

Firefox PDF Reader Nearing Completion, Optional Extension Available Now

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2011 - 02:56 AM |
Tagged: software, pdf, open source, mozilla, firefox, browser

One of the most useful features in Google’s Chrome web browser is the built in PDF reader. It is a feature that I use almost every day, and although I keep an install of Firefox’s Aurora browser as a backup I have yet to return to using Firefox as my main browser since first checking out Chrome.

I’ve been wanting an integrated PDF reader in Firefox for some time now, and if this story is correct, Mozilla may be one step closer to delivering just that. According to the article, Mozilla has been developing a PDF viewer built using HTML 5 and Javascript technologies. Currently the open source project is called PDF.js, and the development team is working on integrating it into Firefox.

For now though, the team has released PDF.js as a browser extension for the open source browser. In addition to the extension download, the source code is available on GitHub for anyone to view and edit.

PDFjs.png

PDF.js displaying a Dell service manual in PDF format.

As it is now, the PDF.js add-on rather basic, but is definitely off to a good start. You are able to navigate by sections or page thumbnails accessible by a mouse-over pop-up menu on the left of the window. Along the top are buttons for previous and next page, navigating to a specific page, zooming in and out, downloading, printing, and searching the PDF document.

During some informal testing using a 94 page Dell service manual in PDF form, scrolling was smooth enough until hitting a new page upon which there was a bit of lag. Navigating to specific pages was rather quick, however.

The PDF reader is off to a good start and I may have one more reason to switch back to Mozilla’s browser soon enough. What do you guys and gals think about built in PDF support, is it something you find useful during your daily browsing?  If you're interested in checking it out for yourself, the extension is available for download here.  Simply download this "pdf.js.xpi" file and install it (choose the Firefox or Aurora executable for installation if Windows does not assign the .xpi extension to Firefox automatically) using Firefox.  Now navigate to a PDF file on any webpage to have it automatically open using PDF.js.

Source: Geek.com

Google Updates Chrome With Streamlined New Tab Page

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 09:33 PM |
Tagged: Internet, google, chrome, browser

Google has been playing around with the "new tab" page in the beta and development builds of Chrome to streamline the interface, and the company has recently rolled one such update into the latest stable release of the popular browser.

Chrome_New New Tab Interface.png

The new tab page is the page that you are presented with when first firing up Chrome or hitting the new tab button(s).  The new interface is much more streamlined than the old one, and has rearranged several items.  The old interface showed everything all on one canvas; however, the updated new tab page has separated the most visited tabs from the Chrome Apps which now have their own page.  Users are able to navigate between the most visited tabs page and applications page by clicking on the tabs at the bottom of the screen or moving the mouse to the side of the browser window and using the arrows that appear upon mouse-over.

Chrome_Compare.png

Further, where the recently visited/closed web pages horizontal list resided below the most visited tabs on the old interface, in the new interface Google has decided to hide the recently used list.  It can now be accessed by clicking on a menu item in the bottom right corner of the browser window.

Chrome_Recently Closed.png

Google has also made it a bit easier to organize applications.  You can now click and drag applications around to organize them.  When clicking and holding an application, a new recycle bin option appears in the lower right corner of the window that will allow you to remove applications.  Removing is now a matter of clicking and dragging items into the "Remove from Chrome" area.  This remove / uninstall feature is also available when clicking and holding on the most visited tabs on the tabs page.  Finally, the various icons have been given a slight makeover and now are presented with a shiny mouse-over effect.

Google has provided a quick video overview of the interface changes.

Personally, after playing around with the new interface for a few hours now I prefer it to the old way of doing things as it allows for larger "most visited" icons due to having a greater percentage of the Chrome window area available to it (as opposed to the old interface where it was a bit crowded and things tended to fight to attention).  Further, I rarely use the applications, so having them hidden away in their own section is okay with me.  It definitely seems to have been (at least slightly) by tablets and touch interfaces; however, unlike Netflix's recent tablet inspired redesign i actually like the improvements Google has made.  What are your thoughts on the improvements?

Source: Google

Firefox versus Chrome; C++ versus JavaScript ... pouring salt on the browser war

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2011 - 10:34 AM |
Tagged: native client, NaCl, javascript, firefox, chrome, c++, browser

The Browser War is about to heat up again as Google Chrome's native client is released at the same time that Intel is releasing updates to JavaScript to allow for parallel processing

Chrome's salty poke at browsers is to introduce a way to run C and C++ in a protected sandbox to allow a secure way to run the code on the web, similar to how Java and JavaScript are currently dealt with.  Using the segment registers on your CPU as a protected space Chrome will now accept and run C and C++ programs, hopefully creating a space in which code can run but not effect your system without your knowledge ... aka the drive-by attack familiar to Flash users.  This will give non-Java programmers the chance to program for the web in a way they have never done before as well as letting those who do not want to program in Java/JavaScript an alternative programming language.  It will take some time before we start to see anyone take advantage of this, let alone whether it will be able to compete with the current solutions already used on the web.

For the JavaScript fan there is good news coming out of the IDF, as Intel has been showing off River Trail and WebGL.  They have finally enabled JavaScript to take advantage of multi-core processors, the demonstration they provided had an eight core machine running a JavaScript app about 15 times faster than it performed with the non-updated code.  Even more interesting is what they plan to do with that performance increase; HTML5, Canvas, and WebGL are all compatible and can benefit from the true performance of multi-core processors.

Catch more on both of these stories and their history at The Register.

internet-browser-757734.jpg

"Google has officially launched Native Client – a means of securely running C and C++ code inside a browser – as part of a new stable version of its Chrome browser that activates this rather controversial sandboxing technology.

Mountain View turned on Native Client, aka NaCl, in the Chrome beta last month, and on Friday, it debuted in the new Chrome 14, a stable release that also includes Google's new Web Audio API."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Register

Firefox Designer Says Mozilla Will Be Keeping Version Numbers

Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2011 - 10:33 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, browser, firefox

We reported earlier that Mozilla would be removing the version number from the About page due to a posting by Asa on the bugzilla page; however, designer Alex Faaborg has come forth to clear up the issue with the statement that “there are no plans to adjust the version number. It will remain in its current place in the about window, and we are going to continue with the current numbering scheme.”

firefoxversion.png

That statement was in the mozilla.dev.usability group, which you can read here. Further in the thread, Alex notes that the confusion began from within the Mozilla UX design group, and Asa defended the design team with his posting on what he thought the final decision was. If the UX team had been playing a joke on Asa, it would have been perfectly executed, says Alex “that’s what I mean when I say significant confusion.”

With development that is done in public, some confusion is to be expected seems to be the sentiment of the thread. All said and done, are you happy to hear that the versioning will remain the same (as of now), or did you want to see them removed from the about screen?

Source: Mozilla

Mozilla Removing Version Numbers from Firefox's About Page

Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2011 - 02:05 AM |
Tagged: software, mozilla, firefox, browser

A new bug report on Mozilla's Bugzilla website indicates that the versioning of the popular web browser will be hidden from the users in future builds.  Specifically, bug 678775 was posted late last week by Asa Dotzler, and addresses the version number on Firefox's About page.  The bug report recommends removing the specific version number in favor of a more general phrase such as "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, you are running the latest release," according to Asa.  Firefox would then, ideally, check for an update whenever the About window was opened, to keep the update message current and the user running the latest build.

aurora_update.png

The current Firefox About page where version numbers are still listed.

While the specific version number will be removed from the About page, users would still be able to dig into the browser's less well known areas, such as the about:support configuration page, to see it.

On one hand, Firefox's new rapid-release schedule will make versioning a less efficient method of, well, versioning; however, the About page of an application has traditionally been the spot to find the version number, and removing the version number from what is essentially a version number information page seems counter productive.  Firefox will likely be on version 7 before the end of the year, and considering version 5 was just released in June, the argument that version numbers are getting out of hand has some merit.  With that said, a simplified message to users that they are, in fact, running the latest version is a good thing to implement, but does it necessitate no longer displaying the version number?

Personally, I enjoy knowing the specific version number of the applications I run, but I'm curious what you guys think; should the version number be buried?

Source: Mozilla

Mozilla Hints At New Firefox Design, Closely Resembles Google Chrome

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2011 - 08:43 AM |
Tagged: firefox, chrome, browser

The Firefox UX development team recently posted a presentation showing off some of the latest design and UI (user interface) improvements for the popular Firefox web browser by Mozilla. While not all of the design choices shown in the presentation will make it into the Aurora or other beta builds, they do indicate that Mozilla is at least considering mixing up their traditional interface for upcoming releases. The image below is one of the screenshots included in the presentation, and at first glance it may be mistaken for Google's Chrome browser. However, upon closer inspection it becomes clear that Mozilla have not simply copied Chrome's minimalist design but they have gone with a similar tab design, continued with the transparency that is already present in certain builds and sprinkled some Mozilla flair on top to create one possible look for a future Firefox browser.

01-Firefox-Australis-(Windows).jpg

Some other proposed changes of the design include a new menu that is icon based versus word lists and is located on the right side of the window as well as an improved full screen experience that seeks to give web apps the screen real estate they need.  A new home tab and add-on manager interface are also proposed changes.  As shown in the screenshot above, tabs that are not in focus, have their backgrounds become fully transparent so that only the text is visible.  This definitely helps the main tab stand out and may help in reducing the amount of distraction users face when having multiple tabs open.

03-Firefox-Australis-(Mac)-AddOns.jpg

While these are only proposed changes, it is apparent that Mozilla are planning some kind of major UI overhaul if they can get the users to accept it, and the next major release may well see a slightly more chrome-esque appearance with that special Firefox flair.  What are your thoughts on the proposed designs, do they seem likely?  If you are still using Firefox, what features of other browsers would you like to see Firefox emulate?

Source: Mozilla